DES MOINES – Matt Thomas took a dribble and stepped into a shot from behind the 3-point line on the right wing. The ball arched high through the air before swishing through the net.
Thomas had given Capital Orthopedic a 118-117 lead with under 15 seconds to play against Hannah Homes on Sunday night in 2015 YMCA Capital City League play. It might not have had the same feeling as a game-winner under the bright lights of Hilton Coliseum, but it still was a game-winner.
“It’s just Cap City, but you want to come here and win. When I’m playing against Hallice (Cooke) and Deonte (Burton), obviously I want to win,” Thomas said. “Any time I’m doing something competitive I want to win if it’s ping pong, pool or, obviously, basketball.”
While Thomas was busy scoring 39 points, including nine 3-pointers, to lead his team to the 120-117 win, CBS Sports was reporting that TJ Otzelberger, a guy Thomas calls one of his mentors, would be retained on the Iowa State staff by Steve Prohm.
Otzelberger could be just what Thomas needs in order to make that step from underclassman averaging 4.9 points per game to a team leading upperclassman.
“We go way back to even before I was getting recruited to Iowa State,” Thomas said. “He did a great job when all the Fred speculation was going around keeping us players together ever since he got back in Ames.”
In his first two seasons with Iowa State, Thomas has knocked down 72 3-pointers. There has never been any doubt that he could shoot the ball from deep. However, if he wants to take his game to the next level he will need to be more than just a shooter.
Thomas says that’s going to be one of his focuses this summer.
“Getting quicker and working on my body, just like last summer,” Thomas said. “Working on my range, getting my shot off quicker, just finding different ways to score besides just shooting the ball.”
Ashton adjusting to life as a Cyclone
Walk-on Jordan Ashton is one of the most recent additions to Iowa State’s roster for the upcoming season but that hasn’t kept him from standing out during the first three nights of the Capital City League. The Kirkwood transfer is averaging 25.6 points, including a 33 point and seven 3-pointer performance on Sunday.
Ashton had a few low-major schools after him following his all-American sophomore season for Kirkwood, then Iowa State got into the game when T.J. Otzelberger came back to Ames.
“I wanted to play at the highest level and go somewhere that I knew I could be successful,” Ashton said. “I felt like Iowa State was a good fit.”
Ashton was surprised when he first heard from Otzelberger but says it didn’t take him long to know Iowa State was the place for him.
“I went on my visit,” Ashton said. “I just knew that was the place I wanted to be at.”
Ashton is shooting 68 percent from behind the arc during the first three games at Capital City League, but he says he wants to be known for more than just his prowess from deep.
“Everyone sees me as just a shooter,” Ashton said. “I also feel like I play good defense. I’m a lot better and I think I’m more athletic than people realize.”
Phoenix Renewables and Resources 122, Renaissance Granite & Quartz 94
*** Monte Morris scored 32 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds to bring in the league’s first triple-double of the year in the win. Morris also knocked down four 3-pointers and turned the ball over just twice.
Former Cyclone Kourtlin Jackson added 30 points for Phoenix Renewable Resources, while Drake’s Reed Timmer poured in 30 points to lead Renaissance Granite & Quartz, who was without Abdel Nader and former Cyclone Daniel Edozie.
Adio Chiropractic 140, YMCA 109
*** Jordan Ashton scored 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range to lead Adio to the win. Georges Niang pulled in another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. He also dished out six assists.
Eight of the nine Adio players scored in double-figures. Nick Weiler-Babb scored eight points and grabbed six boards in the losing effort for YMCA.
Capital Orthopedic 120, Hannah Homes 117
*** Matt Thomas scored 39 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished five assists and hit nine three-pointers, including the game winner to lead Capital Orthopedic to the win. Nick Noskowiak also added 17 points.
Deonte Burton scored 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Hannah Homes in the loss. Hallice Cooke scored 21 points, on seven three-pointers, dished seven assists and grabbed six rebounds in his 2015 YMCA Capital City League debut.