CF goes one-on-one with Iowa State assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih on recruiting, newcomers and the upcoming 2014-15 season.
CF: Let’s start with the recruiting trail. I know it has been an interesting process since you were hired as far as program progression has gone. Was this summer different now that you guys are thought of as more of a national program because of last year’s run in March? Are more doors open now?
MA: I think that has been proven with the caliber of guys that we have been able to get involved with and get on campus. When you call a kid for the first time and you say you are from Iowa State, now they are listening. Three years ago that wasn’t the case. Now we are able to target the top tier kids to come here and it has been really great to be able to be in that spotlight. The spring that we had from a recruiting standpoint was tremendous with the guys that we added late and the guys that we added who are sitting out. That momentum needs to continue to impact winning, there’s no doubt about that. That is the best recruiting tool we have right now is winning.
CF: When Bill Simmons is writing about Fred going to the Bulls and all of the NBA talk is everywhere in the offseason, does that almost help your job in some ways because I assume Fred is reassuring recruits that he will be here?
MA: I personally think it does. I definitely use it in recruiting, even currently. We have a head coach the caliber where he is mentioned for 10 NBA jobs. I think that speaks of who he is and where he is at in his career. We are going to continue to keep using that.
CF: You brought Bryce Dejean-Jones to town from UNLV. The DeAndre Kane comparisons are inevitable. How is he doing with that? Is that a positive? Is that fair?
MA: I would expect Bryce to take on the ownership that he better shoot for being Newcomer of the Year and being a First-Team All-Big 12 player. That’s the type of player I think he is. The similarities to DeAndre I know he gets annoyed by because they are somewhat unfair – to be compared to somebody else who you know – who you are cool with. But he has a handled it great since the first day he stepped on campus. He’s done a tremendous job of buying into everything about this program and buying in to the culture that we have. That’s the foundation of our program, is the culture. He’s bought into everything. The bar is set really high though on him because of what DeAndre did. Everybody sees that immediately eligible thing and all of the sudden think that he should average 17, seven and six. If he can come close to him, that will be great.
CF: Similar question here about another one of your guys. Dustin Hogue had 34 in a Sweet 16 loss to UConn. Fred just said that he had a better summer than anybody. He seems to me like he is the forgotten guy. Does he use that in the offseason?
MA: He has always had a chip on his shoulder. I always joke with him that if he didn’t come to Iowa State, you know where he would have ended up? At an NAIA school. He is probably going to hate me saying this but when we played BYU, he thought it was a conference game. He is focused on one thing and that’s going out there and playing. That’s just who he is. He has a chip on his shoulder. He has gotten to this point for a reason. That’s work ethic and intangibles. He’s just so tough mentally and physically.
CF: Final question and it’s another one about recruiting. Now that Georgios Tsalmpouris is on campus, should we expect you guys to go overseas more often on the recruiting trail? Did that open any doors?
MA: The expectations were always there. We just missed on a few guys who we were targeting. Now that we got one, I hope it is a great experience for him, especially for Greece. Selfishly, I hope I can go over there once a year and hang out in Athens. Georgios has been tremendous since he got here. He has adapted quite well. If he is successful like I think he is, I hope it opens doors to bring more kids over because that is just another variable and another route that we can get kids to the program.