While Iowa State’s 2017-18 men’s basketball season has been a roller coaster on the court, fans have been left waiting for the arrival of one of the best-recruiting classes in program history.
We caught up with one of the members of the class, Wisconsin point guard Tyrese Haliburton, following his unofficial visit to Ames for the Cyclones’ 70-52 win over No. 8 Texas Tech. See what Haliburton had to say about the game, his senior season and Talen Horton-Tucker‘s internet famous dunks in this Q&A.
CF: How’s your senior season going?
Haliburton: It’s going really well right now. Pretty sure we’re 14-1. We lost a tough game to Kaukauna, whose point guard is going to West Virginia, Jordan McCabe, and that was a tough one. But all the rankings still have us No. 1 in Division I, so just working for March right now as a team and hoping we can win a state championship.
CF: How are you doing personally?
Haliburton: I’m playing really well right now. A lot of teams are coming out on us and playing triangle-and-two on me and another guard on my team. I think it’s nice for me just because I get to find guys open more. I think that’s one of my strengths is being able to find guys and putting guys in the right spots to score. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m pretty close to eight or nine assists a game and I’m scoring the ball at a high-level so I’m playing really well right now. I just want my jump shot to become a lot more consistent in game.
CF: Have you been able to improve on some of the stuff you wanted to improve from junior year to senior year?
Haliburton: Yeah, for sure. Coming from our year last year we were one game away from the state tournament. We went undefeated until the sectional final. I think one thing that I wanted in the offseason was to become a better leader and lead these guys through the summer as well as improve my game in all aspects because you’re never perfect at anything. I’ve just been pushing these guys like crazy all summer. I think we had a really good summer as a team and, obviously, I had a pretty good summer. I’ve improved my pull-up jumper a lot. I’m stronger with my left hand. I’ve improved my handle and as a leader, I’m letting guys hear my voice more.
CF: How was your trip to Hilton Coliseum for the game last Saturday?
Haliburton: It was awesome. I’ve never seen Hilton live and in action. I guess I was there for Hilton Madness, but I’ve never seen it for a game. We picked the Texas Tech game because we knew it was going to be a crazy atmosphere as they were top-10 in the country and Hilton definitely didn’t disappoint. I guess words don’t do it justice. You have to see it for yourself to know what it’s really like. Obviously, I’ve seen it on TV, but being there right in front of the student section is something that you have to see to believe. Guys played really well and it was just a fun trip.
CF: Obviously, you’ve been busy with your own season, but have you gotten a chance to watch the team on TV much?
Haliburton: Yeah, I try to basically watch every game. If I’m not home, I try to watch it on my phone on WatchESPN. I try to watch pretty much every game. Being able to go in person and watch was really cool because they haven’t played to the level they’re capable of all year. I mean, it’s a really young team. It’s cool because they’re taking their bumps and bruises now and hopefully next I come into an atmosphere where guys are sick and tired of it. We can do better than this. Iowa State’s a really young team this year. That was a big win against Texas Tech, but now we just got to keep playing well.
CF: How exciting is it for you to see guys like Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard having so much success knowing you’re going to come and play with them next year?
Haliburton: Oh, man, that’s awesome. It’s honestly so cool because, not to discourage any of my high school teammates or discourage any of my AAU teammates, but going to play at a high-major Division I school I feel like anytime I’m able to kick it to Lindell, I have confidence it’s going in. I’ve never played with a big man that can dunk the ball all vertical like Cam and it’s going to be pretty cool to play with such athletes and great basketball players, as well. As a point guard who likes getting guys the ball, it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to get there.
CF: Have you kept up with the other guys in your class?
Haliburton: Yeah, me, Zion (Griffin), George (Conditt) and Talen have a group chat on Snapchat and a group chat on messages so we talk basically every day. Not only about basketball but regular stuff. Those are the guys I’ll be living with the next four years so just want to build that relationship now. I think when we were all together during Talen’s official visit, we all basically got pretty close. From there, we pretty much talk every day.
CF: Has Talen been bragging to you guys about the dunks he keeps having blow-up on the internet?
Haliburton: (Laughs) Talen is very low-key about it I guess you could say. Talen’s a kid who’s very confident in himself and he stays quiet about it and if you’ve ever watched him play a game you can tell by his demeanor that he’s not that type of guy. He’ll post the dunks and stuff or he’ll low-key slide them in our group chat, not say anything until we boost him up a little bit then he starts to laugh about it. But that’s crazy too. Like you said, looking forward to playing with Lindell and Cam and those guys, it’s going to be awesome to play with Talen, George and Zion just because I’ve been playing Talen basically my whole life in AAU and stuff like that so it will be cool to have him as a teammate. Zion and George are also great players, so I’m looking forward to it.
CF: Awesome, thanks, man for taking a couple minutes to talk to me. Good luck with the rest of your senior season and we’ll talk to you again down the road.
Haliburton: Definitely, thanks, talk to you later.