Feb 25, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm watches his team play the Oklahoma Sooners at Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
For the second time in the last three seasons, Steve Prohm and his staff are facing a tall task. They are forced to replace the majority of the key players from a Big 12 Tournament championship team in a few short weeks.
The Cyclones are expected to lose three out of the team’s five starters, the sixth man and one other crucial bench piece, similar to the offseason following the program’s run to the Big 12 Tournament title in 2017.
“It’s amazing. It’s a good thing though. The last two out of three years we’ve had really good years. Won the Big 12 Tournament, went to the NCAAs, but we’ve really lost our whole team,” Prohm said on Friday at the Coaches vs. Cancer gala in West Des Moines. “You’re in a possible situation like that again this year. I think the biggest thing you learn is don’t not take a good player even if they have to sit out. Marial Shayok and Mike Jacobson were huge parts of a championship team this year and part of really getting us back to the upper-half of the Big 12, NCAA Tournament, Big 12 Tournament championship. We’re looking at transfers as well to sit out even if that impacts us down the road. I don’t think you can turn away from that, but you also have to get a sense of urgency to where, ‘Hey, what high school kids or fifth-year guy can really help us or impact us?’”
On the bright side, the staff is focused on bolstering the program’s perimeter rather than the frontcourt like it was when it added Jeff Beverly, Hans Brase and others in 2017, all of which turned out to less than stellar additions for a lost 2017-18 season.
This year, they are looking to replace Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton, who are both expected to keep their name in consideration for the NBA Draft, as well as graduated seniors Shayok and Nick Weiler-Babb.
“We’ve got to get a couple of perimeter guys that can impact our team going forward for next year and the years on,” Prohm said. “When you lose two guys like (Horton-Tucker and Wigginton) that can probably get you a combined 40 points on certain nights, you’ve got to have some arsenals returning. We’ve got to do that through recruiting. We’ve got some good pieces coming back but we’ve got to do it through recruiting as well.”
Iowa State’s fate with at least two prospects on its board will be known this coming week as four-star Texas guard Sahvir Wheeler will announce his college decision between the Cyclones and Georgia on Monday. Plus, three-star former South Dakota State signee Caleb Grill is expected to make a decision between Iowa State, Kansas State and UNLV before the end of the week.
Land those two players and the Cyclones will be sitting pretty well as they look to add a graduate or sit-out transfer that can further strengthen the backcourt. Miss on both and college basketball’s silly season could get even sillier for Iowa State hoops.
“The spring has really become a wild time. Since the season ended, we haven’t stopped. You go right to recruiting. I had a baby in the middle of that as well. We just haven’t stopped. We finished a visit yesterday afternoon. We did two home visits yesterday night. That’s just part of the business,” Prohm said. “The spring has become people going after grad transfers, regular transfers and then trying to sign some high school guys or junior college guys who can come in and impact your team. The spring is a totally different recruitment than the fall. You’ve got so many guys getting out of their letters of intent to where you might recruit a guy for two years and not get them. In the spring, you might recruit a guy for four weeks. The relationships are totally different. That’s the way recruiting has changed. Now, we’ve got to adapt going forward. You’re going to be fifth-year heavy at times. You’ve got to look at that. You’ve got to look at a lot of different things going forward.”