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Basketball

WILLIAMS: Hoops recruiting bonanza

When you combine Matt Abdelmassih’s departure to St. John’s, T.J. Otzelberger’s return to Ames and Fred Hoiberg’s recent heart surgery, it’s easy to understand how times have been a bit tumultuous on the recruiting trail for Iowa State over the last few weeks.

With three known scholarships to give leading into next season and the month of May approaching, Iowa State’s game plan is finally starting to fall into place. 

It began with Nick Babb, the 6-foot-5 Arkansas transfer who committed to Iowa State two weeks ago. He will sit out next season and look to be a contributor for three years starting in 2016.

What about the other three ships?

As we’ve noted on this site numerous times, go ahead and pencil in 2015 point guard Nick Noskowiak for one of them. It isn’t a done deal. Nothing ever is in recruiting. But Noskowiak will be in Ames this weekend for an official visit. Iowa State is his best option and considering that Hoiberg recruited him the first time around, his familiarity with the program and Milwaukee native T.J. Otzelberger give Iowa State a large leg up on the competition. 

Plan for the final two

Obviously, Iowa State needs help in the frontcourt. I know of four immediately eligible bigs that are currently on Iowa State’s radar. 

Let’s start with Max Biefeldt, a graduate transfer out of Michigan. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per season last year for the Wolverines. It is possible but yet not concrete that he will make an official visit to Iowa State this weekend. 

Get familiar with the name Chris Olivier, an immediately eligible big out of Eastern Illinois. At 6-foot-8, 245-pounds, Olivier averaged 13 and 5 last season for the Panthers in 23.5 minutes per game. Like Biefeldt, an upcoming visit to Iowa State is very possible in the near future.

Providence transfer Tyler Harris is a potential option as an immediately eligible prospect. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last year. Per a source, Harris will be in Ames this Sunday for a visit. According to multiple reports, he will also visit Georgia Tech this weekend. Harris is reportedly set to visit Auburn next week.

Finally, a 6-foot-10 graduate transfer out of Pitt named Joseph Uchebo could be an option as well. Uchebo hails from Chipola Community College in Florida, where Otzelberger used to coach prior to his time on the McDermott staff at Iowa State. Iowa State ops director Micah Byars is also a former Chipola coach. His stats at Pitt from the last two years aren’t much to brag about. In 2014-16, Uchebo only averaged 6.2 minutes per game, collecting 1.5 points and 1.9 rebounds along the way. He apparently has knee problems but at 245-pounds, could fill space for the Cyclones next season. There’s no word yet on if a visit is in the works. This is more of a name to keep in the back of your head throughout the process. 

— NOTE: My guess is that Iowa State will only take one of the above immediate eligible prospects and then try to bank a sit-out transfer for 2016 and beyond. All offseason long, I’ve heard that Iowa State’s goal is to not have to “rebuild” after the Georges Niang’s, Naz Long’s and Jameel McKay’s of the world graduate. There is going to be a setback – sure – but this program wants to be able to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth in two years and banking a transfer (Babb) or two is a good way to do that.

Some names…

Kyle Washington: Recruiting gurus will likely remember this 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward who played at N.C. State for the last two years. Hoiberg and Abdelmassih heavily recruited him out of high school in the state of Minnesota. That gives Iowa State a shot, but the fact that Washington’s family recently moved to New York City will work against the Cyclones. Washington averaged 6.8 points per game last season for the Wolfpack.

Demetrius Henry: Averaged 6.0 and 3.6 as a sophomore last season at South Carolina. He’s a 6-foot-9, 227-pound forward-center combo who would have two years of eligibility at his next school.

Leland King: This 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward averaged 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Brown. He too would have two years to play at his next stop.

Josh Cunningham: I really don’t see this one happening but since Iowa State heavily recruited the Bradley transfer out of high school, he is worth paying attention to. Averaged 7.9 and 7.5 last season as a freshman at Bradley.

Two 2016 offers 

Sam Hauser: It was widely reported last weekend that Stevens Point, Wisc. forward Sam Hauser has received an Iowa State offer. It sounds like Marquette is currently the school to beat but the Cyclones are now in the mix.

Kostas Antetokounmpo: The 6-foot-7, 180-pound younger brother of Milwaukee Buck Giannis Antetokounmpo, now has an Iowa State offer as well. Antetokounmpo is a 2016 prospect.