Basketball

GEORGE CONDITT: “Just staying ready” in advance of matchup with No. 8 Texas Tech

George Conditt IV (pictured on the far right) poses with fellow Chicagoans Zion Griffin and Talen Horton-Tucker in a photo featured on the Mars Reel YouTube page. 

AMES — Iowa State freshman forward George Conditt stood tall when asked about his playing time.

 “Just staying ready,” he said.

Conditt the Fourth did the same when questions turned to his near-future role with the Cyclones (12-4, 2-2 Big 12), given that fellow big man Cam Lard may or may not play Wednesday at league-leading and eighth-ranked Texas Tech (15-1, 4-0).

 “You never know when your number’s gonna be called, so just always staying ready and always going hard in practice,” Conditt said of his unflagging approach to the game.

 The dynamic Lard will dress and very well might play, but Conditt’s most pointed words came on the heels of questions about his friend, and roommate, Solomon Young’s, recent decision to seek a medical redshirt.

 Conditt steadied his broad shoulders, narrowed his gaze, and spoke from the heart about his mentor.

 “Solomon, man, that’s, that’s, that’s like my best friend, man,” said Conditt, who tallied nine points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in his first real Big 12 minutes in last Saturday’s one-point home loss to Kansas State. “Me and him are so close, but him handling this situation, I would say he’s handling it in the best way he can. Him taking the season out and him sitting out just to get himself right — I think is better for him. I know it’s gonna take a hit from the team, but, of course, at Iowa State, it’s been injury prone for a minute now, but everybody knows we have to step up in our roles and do more. Cam knows. Mike (Jacobson) knows. I know. So, whenever my time is called, I’m gonna just show up. Whenever Cam’s time is called, show up. Mike, same for Mike, he’s gonna show up.”

 Conditt’s both wise and focused beyond his years — and his 6-10, 218-pound frame  will likely, if sporadically, serve ISU well during Wednesday’s 7 p.m. matchup with the best defensive team in the country, per KenPom and in the games that follow.

 “This week will make us a lot better down the stretch,” Cyclones coach Steve Prohm said. “It’s early in January. We’ve had about six, seven, eight different versions of the team so far, so whenever we get the full-fledged team, we’ll be good. The sky isn’t falling. We’e got a tremendous two-week schedule here. I mean, they’re all tough but three of the next four on the road. You’ve got to love that. You’re a competitor, let’s go to Texas Tech and let’s go play (against) who I think is one of the top coaches in the country. Defensively, let’s go in there and have an unbelievable sense of urgency about us.”

 Yes, let’s do that.

 ISU’s success hinges largely on guard play, but given how Conditt went toe-to-toe with K-State, the front court minutes are  clearly better defined, as well.

 The Cyclones expect rim runner extarodinaire Lard to give it a go in Wednesday’s game, but his ailing ankle may or may not be healed enough to allow him to spend much time on the floor.

 “We just need to play with who we have and hopefully we get Cameron back and healthy, because he provides a rim presence that we need,” Prohm said.

 So does Conditt — whenever he might play, in bits and pieces. Young has helped prepare him for this big-stage moment and Lard is certain he’s ready for it.

 “I think he played tremendously,” Lard said of Conditt’s performance against Kansas State. “Him doing that, that game alone, show’s the kid’s potential.”

 And the “kid’ is ready for prime time. Now. A handful of minutes in one game translates to a fistful of knowledge for the rest.

 “He played a lot early because of the circumstances he was put into, and really others put him into — the program did,” Prohm said of Conditt. “He sat out a lot of games and didn’t play a lot and the effort in practice is great. He’s the best team guy we’ve got, from a standpoint of cheering. He loves Iowa State and obviously has family connections here, too, so it makes it even more prideful for him, but I really think it shows his character.”

 That’s winning character. However the minutes come — be it a drizzle or a dousing.

 “My role has always been important, regardless of I’m not playing or if I’m playing,” Conditt said. “My role is to just bring energy. I think that’s what I do best at.”

Rob Gray

administrator

Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.