Jan 5, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Tyrese Haliburton (22) reacts during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Over the next several weeks, I will be going through the Iowa State men’s basketball roster entering the 2019-20 season and looking back at their roles in 2018-19, how those roles could change entering a new year, the places they thrived on the court and the spots they stand to make some improvements.
Leading off this series, soon-to-be sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton
His role was…
There was absolutely no bigger pleasant surprise in 2018-19 than Haliburton’s emergence as a crucial player in the Cyclones’ rotation. The Oshkosh, Wis. native certainly opened a lot of eyes while dominating the YMCA Capital City League last summer on his way to earning league MVP honors.
But, there were still questions as to how the 6-foot-5, 172-pound guard would figure into Iowa State’s talent-laden backcourt. Haliburton thrived almost immediately upon being inserted into the starting lineup after Lindell Wigginton’s foot injury in the season-opener and the freshman became a player Steve Prohm could not afford to take off the floor at times.
Haliburton, who averaged 6.8 points on shot 51 percent from the field, 43.4 percent from 3-point range plus dished 3.6 assists and snagged 1.5 steals per game in his rookie campaign, ended the season as just the fourth freshman in college basketball since 1992-93 to tally 125 assists, 50 steals and 30 blocks.
Needless to say, his first season in Ames was a massive success.
Where he thrived…
Haliburton showed flashes of what he can do as a scorer, but his biggest contribution to the team in 2018-19 was his ability to distribute from the off-ball spot. He has high-level ability to see the floor and is able to make passes many other players either don’t see or wouldn’t even attempt.
“I don’t have the stats in front of me right now, but his assist to turnover ratio as a freshman, to have the number of assists he had and never play the point position,” Prohm told Cyclone Fanatic publisher Chris Williams on an Off the Record podcast last week. “Unbelievable assist to turnover ratio, great, great feel for the game.”
The constantly smiling freshman was also the most consistent 3-point shooter on the team finishing as the only Cyclone above 40 percent from deep on the season. That ability to put the ball into the basket brings me to my next two points with Haliburton’s game…
His role likely will be…
Here are the keys, young fella.
Wigginton and Talen Horton-Tucker’s decisions to head to the professional ranks likely leaves Haliburton as the floor general of next year’s Iowa State team. If his freshman season is any indication of future success, he will be one heckuva piece to build around over the next several seasons (or at least until he joins his former teammates at the pro level).
“He’s going to have to score more,” Prohm said. “He’s a worker. He’s in here all the time. He’s got great character, great toughness. Really looking forward to the improvement that he can make this spring and summer.”
Where he stands to improve…
Prohm mentioned it right at the top of the previous quote. Haliburton has to get better at hunting his own shot than he was during his freshman season.
We have all heard the stories of his teammates pressuring him to shoot the ball more. Next season, they absolutely will need him to shoot the basketball more considering the amount of production the team loses.
Haliburton showed a solid ability to get into the paint and finish a number of times throughout the year. That ability to get into the paint really helped him in his role as a distributor in 2018-19, but it will likely need to become a more consistent position to be a scorer entering his sophomore season.
“The point guard position, I always like that guy to be aggressive and to look to score at times,” Prohm said. “Obviously, Tyrese can really make shots but we have to be able to put pressure on the defense at times as well.”
The youngster has all the tools to be next in a long list of great point guards at Iowa State. He showed us all plenty of flashes of that talent during a backseat role as a freshman, but this will be his show now.
Haliburton making a sizeable leap from year one to year two could go a long ways towards helping the Cyclones get back to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and eighth time in nine years.
“He’s got to do a great job of this spring and summer is, obviously, improve on his body, improve on his shot,” Prohm said. “Then work on ball screens to be more aggressive. Obviously, more than capable, great feel for the game, can really get people involved.”