Nov 17, 2017; Conway, SC, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton (5) shoots the ball against Tulsa Golden Hurricane forward Geno Artison (35) during the first half at The HTC Center. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
It is an annual right of passage at the conclusion of every college football or basketball season that every writer worth his salt releases a “way-too-early top-25.” We in Cyclone Nation were even energized by one such piece when our Cyclones were included in USA Today’s pre-and-post-spring rankings.
Now, it would be nearly impossible to release a way-too-early ranking for the YMCA Capital City League in the traditional format when you consider the teams aren’t finalized until only a few weeks before the season starts. That’s why today, the day after this year’s CCL draft, I’m releasing my too-early YMCA Capital City League power rankings.
You may be thinking, “Jared, do we really need YMCA Capital City League power rankings two weeks before the start of the season? Do we really even need CCL power rankings at all?” The answer to both of these questions is yes and only because I make the rules here and I say if we need CCL power rankings, then we need CCL power rankings.
Note: I will include each Iowa State player’s draft position behind their name and then list a few other notable players on the roster before each paragraph of analysis.
1 — Sparta Waste
Iowa State players: Lindell Wigginton (2nd), George Conditt (11th)
Other notables: Malachi Canada (Ex-SWCC), DJ Wilkins (Drake), Noah Thomas (Drake)
Some people may have been surprised to see Wigginton was not the first pick in Monday night’s draft. I’ll write more about why he wasn’t later, but, in the long run, not being the top pick could work out in the Big 12’s leading returning scorer’s benefit.
He will team up with Conditt to create what should be a pretty formidable inside-out duo and a tough cover in the pick and roll. Also, having success in the CCL is often built on your team’s ability to attack the rim and protect the rim. Sparta Waste has guys capable of doing both.
Plus, Canada gives them a salty perimeter defender that should make attacking the rim off the dribble a little more difficult. The only caveat will be Conditt’s status with the Puerto Rican U-18 team and how long it takes him to get to Ames. Still, this is the clear preseason-favorite to take the CCL title in my mind.
2 — MRG International
Iowa State players: Talen Horton-Tucker (3rd), Zion Griffin (10th)
Other notables: Brady Ellingson (Drake, formerly Iowa), Reed Mells (Ex-Truman State)
Iowa State’s 2018 recruiting class is one of the most heralded in school history and MRG International’s two Cyclones are big reasons why. Horton-Tucker will enter the league as the second-highest rated recruit of the Steve Prohm era while Griffin is certainly no slouch himself, being rated as a top-100 recruit by some outlets.
This will be a great first look at these two talented freshmen and they will have a solid third running mate in Ellingson, a guy who has played a lot of Power 5 minutes before transferring to join the Bulldogs.
The THT hype train is already rolling at full bore, but I figured I’d throw some gas on the fire and push it even further into this CCL season. I expect this team to be a solidified title contender.
3 — Lions Club
Iowa State players: Michael Jacobson (4th), Tyrese Haliburton (9th)
Other notables: Garrett Sturtz (Drake, Newton High grad), Tyreke Locure (DM North High School)
I said on a podcast last week I thought this Cyclone duo could come together to be a pretty dang tough CCL matchup. Whoever coaches Lions Club must have been listening and I still feel the same way.
Neither Jacobson or Haliburton has the flash of a Wigginton, THT or even Marial Shayok, but they’re both solid players who do things that are important in the CCL well. Haliburton will bring athleticism, range and playmaking while Jacobson will be one of the league’s top rebounders and all-around big men.
I see this team as the best dark horse bet entering the season.
4 — Hinterland
Iowa State players: Marial Shayok (1st), Eric Steyer (12th)
Other notables: Roman Penn (Drake), Antonio Pilipovic (Drake)
Shayok enters this year’s CCL coming off of one of the most decorated seasons in the league’s history. Not only was he named the league’s MVP, he led his team to the championship and broke the league’s single-season scoring record along the way.
Simply, the 2017 CCL was owned by Marial Shayok. That is why it came as no surprise to see him taken with the top pick in this year’s draft. While it is probably cool to be taken No. 1 in a draft, it has its downsides.
Having the No. 1 pick left Hinterland with the No. 12 pick in the Iowa State round as well, which usually means they’ll get whoever is the Cyclones’ walk-on at the time. Now, I don’t want anyone to think I’m hating on Eric Steyer, because I really enjoyed watching him play for Ames High the last several seasons, but if I have a chance to choose between teaming up the No. 1 pick with the No. 12 pick or the No. 3 or No. 4 pick with the No. 9 or No. 10 pick, I’m choosing one of the latter options.
I still give this squad a solid chance at making a championship run, but that is based almost solely on how good Shayok was in the league last season.
5 — Hannah Homes
Iowa State players: Prentiss Nixon (6th), Terrence Lewis (7th)
Other notables: Nick McGlynn (Drake), Samm Jones (Drake), Jordan Stotts (Ex-Sioux Falls), Connor Riordan (Simpson)
It was really hard to slate these last two teams and after typing out my notable players list I’m starting to feel like I have Hannah Homes too low. But, I’m going to trust my gut instinct and leave them here at No. 5 until proven otherwise.
Lewis was awesome last year in his first CCL experience, nearly carrying his team to a title, finishing as a finalist for the MVP award and averaging more than 28 points per game. Will that be the Lewis we see in this year’s league or the Lewis we watched struggle for the majority of Iowa State’s 2017-18 season?
I think that is what Hannah Homes’ long-term championship run success hinges on. Nixon has the talent to be pretty good as well, but considering I’ve only seen his game in small bursts, I don’t entirely know what to expect from him during his first summer in central Iowa.
I think this team has the potential to have a high-ceiling, but it also comes with some big question marks in my mind.
6 — Waukee-Clive Vet Clinic
Iowa State players: Zoran Talley (5th), Solomon Young (8th)
Other notables: Quinton Curry (Rockhurst, Ex-Valley), Luke Terhark (Wayne State)
No other team in the league has two guys who have played as many minutes in Cardinal and Gold as Waukee-Clive Vet Clinic. Talley and Young were both crucial pieces of the Cyclones last season, but I’m not sure how much CCL success that will translate to this summer.
I really like what both guys bring to the table for the Cyclones during the season. I don’t know how much I like what they’ll be able to bring to the table as offensive focal points during the Capital City League schedule.
I hope they prove me wrong because their improvement would be major wins for the Cyclones entering 2018-19. That said, I think this team is pretty clearly the bottom-dweller entering the CCL slate.
Bet you thought I couldn’t write 1,300 words about a summer league with zero real ramifications two weeks before the season started, huh? Well, the joke’s on you because I can write a lot of words about way less meaningful things.
We’ll start finding out how wrong I am with these rankings on June 17th when the YMCA Capital City League slate kicks off at Valley High School.