Basketball

MONDAY MUSINGS: Is this Iowa State’s best string of football recruiting ever? Cyclones in the Summer League

One week from today, I will be in Dallas for the Big 12’s annual media day event that always unofficially kicks off a new football season. 

However, there has been an influx of offseason news that has taken over our front page at Cyclone Fanatic over the last two weeks. Matt Campbell’s staff has been on an absolute tear on the recruiting trail. 

Here’s a nice outline from Alex Halstead, who covers Iowa State football recruiting for 247. 

It might be the biggest run of commits in Iowa State football history. I can’t claim that as a fact, but I certainly don’t remember anything quite like it since I hopped on this beat in 2004. 

Some analysis and tidbits on the big run…

Bright future at running back

It started a week on June 28 with running back Breece Hall, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound bruiser out of Wichita. 

Then last Friday, four-star Jirehl Brock added his commitment to the fold. 

First impression: I love the fact that both prospects have embraced the concept of playing beside one another. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of ego here or for that matter, fear of competition. Perhaps I am generalizing the “Twitter age” of college football recruiting, but this type of attitude seems rare in 2018. Without ever talking to either young man, this tells me that they have already bought into a team-first concept and will fit in quite well culturally at Matt Campbell’s Iowa State. 

A few things on Brock…

Here’s a great piece fro his hometown newspaper, that heavily credits the recruiting efforts of Iowa State’s first-year running backs coach Nate Scheelhaase. 

“They did a great job of being interested but not bugging him,” Brock’s high school coach, Rick Little said. “They would check in and make sure he knew they were invested in what was going on. They also were very, very patient in letting him know that. I think that was something that was really key in this situation.”

That’s what I have heard consistently about how Campbell’s staff recruits: Be sincere. Say what you mean and mean what you say. 

The thing about recruiting in 2018 is that these prospects have never been more educated. They are on Twitter, message boards, etc. They know what staffs are telling other kids and generally can see through BS. Back in 2005, that wasn’t really the case. 

Regarding Brock and his offer from Iowa…

I don’t want to get involved in the Twitter Cy-Hawk battles but here is what I’ve heard: Iowa State and Minnesota were clearly the favorites. Iowa knew that and told the kid that he was on a time table with them and essentially pulled the offer. This happens all of the time in recruiting. It’s just funny though when you consider Iowa’s whole “all offers are commitable” stance from a year ago. 

As is always the case, I’m sure Iowa has its own side to this story as well.

Big add for the defense…

Iowa State’s assault on the western time zone continued on Saturday with the clutch commitment of Caleb Johnson, a JUCO outside linebacker out of Fullerton College in California. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound prospect a long time target that by my estimation, has a great shot to be an immediate replacement to Willey Harvey in the 2019 starting lineup. Johnson chose the Cyclones primarily over Arkansas. 

Deonte Burton gets a 2-way NBA contract

This doesn’t surprise me at all. 

The NBA is moving more and more in the direction to favor guys like Burton and Georges Niang, who we will get to in a minute. 

Deonte used to be considered “undersized.” Now, he’s considered “versatile.” 

It wasn’t against top-notch professional competition, but Burton was named MVP of his league in Korea last year. 

Cool thing is, OKC’s G-League Team, the Oklahoma City Blue, played the Iowa Wolves four times last year. There’s a chance we could see Deonte play in Des Moines twice next season. 

On a personal note: This is such a cool story. We all know about Deonte’s struggles after losing his mother to cancer a few years ago. Once considered out of shape and selfish, Burton has grown into an impressive man, worked incredibly hard with his conditioning and ball skills, and is now in the NBA. 

“I’m really excited, it’s a dream come true,” Burton told the Thunder’s team website. “Really, I’m really more focused on playing than the actual deal because I want to come out here and show that I’m a good player.”

Deonte is averaging 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in two Summer League games with the Thunder.

Niang is tearing it up 

You can take everything I wrote about the NBA game inching closer to Burton and apply it go Georges Niang too, a guy who I still think will have a long career as a pro. He’s averaging 18.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game so far this summer for the Jazz. On Sunday night, Georges led all scorers with 20. 

Other former Cyclones…

Summer League stats for Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long:

Monte: 14.5 points and 5.0 assists per game

Naz: 6.0 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game 

Chris Williams

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Chris was hired as Cyclone Fanatic’s publisher in the fall of 2009. He is Iowa State football's postgame show host on the Cyclone Radio Network and can be heard daily from 4-7 on Des Moines' top-rated sports station, 1460 KXnO. Williams, a 2007 graduate of Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism, is the former publisher of the old CycloneNation.com (Scout.com). He has also written for the Des Moines Register, the Ames Tribune, CycloneReport.com and is the former sports director at KMA Radio. When Williams isn’t working, you can usually find him doing something outdoors with his wife Ashley, daughter Camryn, and Golden Retriever Dierks. He enjoys golfing, boating, country music, the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Braves and is passionate about any and all motor sports so finding Williams at a local dirt track is very common.

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