The following is a transcript of Steve Prohm’s teleconference with the media on July 6, 2020. Some questions and answers have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Did you guys do some sort of evaluation of the program in how you approached the spring recruiting cycle?
Prohm: Well, obviously, after last year, everybody knows, we have to get better and we have to bounce back. I think when you look at our roster now going forward, I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to do that. Last year didn’t go according to (the) script. You can talk about Haliburton getting injured, Rasir got injured down the stretch and that didn’t help as well. Although, I thought we played really well against Oklahoma State in that tournament game losing at the buzzer. We had to address some things. I think we did in recruiting to get longer on the perimeter, bigger, more athletic, more versatile. I think in the spring we were very, very patient. Everybody thinks they know who you’re recruiting, but I think the one thing we wanted to do was be patient and get the right guys for how we want to play and guys who have been proven and been successful at this level. I think we did that with Blake (Hinson), Tyler (Harris) and (Jalen) Coleman-Lands. We’re excited about that group as well as our freshmen. A year ago, we had a phenomenal team. When you think about the state of the program, I think our program is in very good shape. Obviously going into this year, there’s a lot of things going on in society with the social issues and, obviously, with the virus issues. But, we’re excited to get these guys back on campus shortly and start our process of building a basketball team that we all can be really proud of this year. We bounced back the year prior and I expect us to do the same in 2021.
Q: You talk about wanting guys who can dribble, pass and shoot. Do you feel like these guys fit into that mold?
Prohm: I do. I’m excited about our freshmen. Obviously it is a unique situation just as far as how they’re having to come in. It’s just Zoom calls right now. It’s Zoom workouts right now with the strength coach. I’m excited about Dudley (Blackwell) and the versatility Dudley and (Darlinstone Dubar) bring and Jaden Walker brings. You look at Xavier Foster and the skillset he brings at 7-foot, I’m excited about those guys. But, you look at Tyler Harris, he brings point guard play, he’s got unbelievable speed and the ability to really, really make shots. Coleman-Lands can really score and can play a lot of different places on the perimeter. Blake Hinson’s a big guard who can play some small forward and small ball for us. That’s interchangeable for us to where we can do some different stuff defensively as well as offensively. That was really good for us in 2018-19.
Q: You talk about finding guys who are the right fit. Does personality play into that almost as much as what actually happens on the court?
Prohm: I think personality is huge. I think that’s one of the biggest things. I think that’s why you’ve seen guys like (Georges) Niang, I mean, obviously, he could really score and he was a really, really good player, but guys like him and Monte (Morris), Naz (Mitrou-Long) and those guys, the connection becomes so real, because not only is it on the floor, but it’s off the floor as well. I could go further on, you know, Matt Thomas, it’s a long list of guys, Tyrese Haliburton. I think those guys, you look at they’re very, very mature, very experienced. Jalen’s been phenomenal in our team meetings, our Zoom meetings. Blake just jumped on for the first time last week. I think you’re right. These guys, they have a platform. They need to utilize that for the things that they want to see changed. From my standpoint and my staff’s standpoint, we support those guys. I’m glad they’re out there trying to make a difference and trying to make change.
Q: How important was adding some shooting ability with this class?
Prohm: I think in our fall class we wanted size and versatility. I think if you look at that 2018-19 team, we were 6-foot-5 one through four. I think we’ve got size back on the perimeter again from that standpoint. We also did that in the spring. Obviously Tyler Harris is unique. He’s 5-foot-9, but he brings a different mindset from his ability to change the game with his speed and his quickness and his toughness and his ability to make shots. I think Tyler Harris can really, really shoot the basketball, which is huge for us going forward. Blake Hinson is a guy capable of making shots. Then Jalen Coleman-Lands has had big games in big moments and made big shots, Texas Tech, Iowa, teams that we’re familiar with and teams that we have to beat going forward. He’s a guy that’s averaged double figures at two different Division I schools in two different leagues. We’re really excited about the maturity and experience he brings.
Q: Do you fully anticipate there actually being a season despite the COVID-19 pandemic?
Prohm: I think so. I’m probably not educated enough from an information standpoint. I think our first focus, everybody knows, is football. Need to get them up and running. You look at Matt (Campbell) and the way they’ve handled everything. They’ve done a terrific job of acclimating their team back. That will help us acclimate our team back when our guys get back. Obviously, the first thing is football is a major driving force for a lot of things. We’ve got to get them back up and running first then we’ll go forward from there. I’m sure a lot of decisions will be made based on how football goes. I look forward to starting in November. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary as of today.
Q: Does that mean the Florida tournament is still on?
Prohm: As of right now, yep. As of right now, yep. We’ve got Oregon down there. That’s a really, really good field, especially as you wait to see everybody who Illinois brings back.
Q: Do you have any idea what the likelihood will be for Blake Hinson and Tyler Harris earning waivers?
Prohm: In a perfect scenario, I’d love to try to get waivers for both of those guys. I don’t like to talk publicly about waivers. I don’t think it helps in any of the situations from that standpoint. Tyler’s been with us for quite a while now. We’re a little bit ahead from a waiver process with him of laying the foundation and going through the process there. Blake just got on board with us and joined us really a week ago. We’re in the very, very initial stages, early stages to really sitting down with him. Tyler’s process is a lot further ahead. That is something that we’re looking at to see if there’s waiver opportunities for either.
Q: Are you prepared in a situation in which they don’t get waivers?
Prohm: We’re prepared if that’s the hand that they’re dealt or we’re dealt. Our goal this spring was to bring good players in, whether they’re eligible this year or whether they’re eligible next year, guys who can make a difference here at Iowa State. I think we did that. Now, if the waiver process brings about where we get one or, possibly, two eligible, does that change the landscape of your team with one, two? Obviously, that moves the needle in different levels. I didn’t talk waiver process with those guys in the recruiting process. I just talked coming to Iowa State and why we thought Iowa State was a good fit. Once we got here, obviously, we’ll look at that from that standpoint. But, the biggest thing, that’s why we were so patient to where in the spring, we did miss on some kids. Some kids who were reported, we weren’t even really recruiting. I want to just get good players. Guys who can fit. Guys who fit me. Guys who fit this community. Guys who fit this culture here. Guys who fit this university. Guys who fit the way we want to play. From that standpoint, I think we did that, I think really with all seven guys. People talk about bringing a lot of guys in, we brought a lot of guys in 2018-19 that were new. We brought in six or seven guys in and everything worked out really well that year. I’m excited to be going forward in the same avenue.
Q: What were the discussions with the other coaches like that led to making Election Day a mandatory off-day in the Big 12?
Prohm: I think the Big 12 coaches, I think we’ve done a great job of collaborating with each other, talking with each other, communicating with each other, really since the major push for change in our country started the last week of May with George Floyd’s tragedy. We got together to do a video to raise awareness. One of the coaches talked about taking the day off. I know the NCAA and the NABC had kind of talked about encouraging it, but I don’t know if it was mandatory or not. You guys would have to check on that. We wanted to make sure we took that day off and spend more time. The biggest thing that we have to do right now, and I have to do, we all need to do, starting with me, is we’ve got to listen better, we’ve got to learn the importance of why taking that day off is important and why voting in your community, is it better voting in your college community or in your home community. We need to have those discussions. I think our guys have done a terrific job over these last couple weeks when we’ve been in our pods, we’ve been on our Zooms, when we’ve done our group talks of sharing different issues. One of the coaches led the way on that. The coaches went one right after another. We’re all on board, let’s do it. Then we put that statement out. That’s one thing I had talked to our guys in the past about making sure to get to the polls to vote, where do you vote, do you need to be an absentee ballot, those are the things that right now everybody should be trying to learn as much as possible. I know I am. I’m trying. I’ve got a great staff that I can lean on and I can ask questions. I want my players to feel like they’ve got a platform to talk. I think our guys have done a great job up to this point.
Q: You’ve talked a lot about needing to learn, especially with the social issues in our country right now. How have you been proactive in doing that?
Prohm: I think the biggest thing is we’re not going to be back until August we thought. I had all speakers lined up. Every week I had all these great names. I could throw a lot of names at you. That’s irrelevant to the point. After the Floyd tragedy, we met as a team on that following Monday, I believe it was, and we talked. That Thursday, we had a speaker. I drove home that day and I talked to my staff and I said, ‘Man, I didn’t feel great about having the speakers.’ I think right now we need to be all in internal. We need to talk, communicate and learn about one another right now. Open up and give them the platform to talk about what they’re going through and how they feel. We kind of just changed the narrative there in our Zoom calls. We meet once a week. We break into pods. Sometimes I have the four assistants lead it. Coach (James) Kane, Coach (Micah) Byars, Coach (Daniyal Robinson) and Coach (William) Small. The last couple of weeks, I’ve had Coach D-Rob, Coach Micah and Coach Small lead a pod. We’ve covered a variety of topics. I think it’s been really healthy for not only the players but also the coaches. It’s also helped me, because it’s challenged me to learn, to really, really understand. We all need to do that. We all need to grow. That’s what we’re all trying to do right now. Hopefully, we’re helping our guys with that. I think we are right now. We’re continuing to do that because it’s not just today, it’s about next week and it’s about November and it’s about January and it’s about next March. Continue to figure out ways to help bring change. We all know there’s a much-needed change.
Q: What was your reaction when Rasir told you about his treatment at Penn State?
Prohm: I think it’s two-fold. No. 1, when I talked to the family, back when we got here and through the recruiting process about his situation at Penn State, I was just getting to know the Bolton family and getting to know (Rasir). That situation there was, ‘Is it within the waiver?’ We kept everything really close to the vest there. The last couple of weeks, I talked to Mr. Bolton about how there may be an article. I talked to Mr. Bolton and Rasir felt compelled to tell his story within the landscape of everything that’s happening in our country right now. The one thing I just reached out to the family to say is, ‘I’m here if you need anything. I support you guys. If I can do anything to help, let me know.’ I texted with his Dad last night because he was letting me know the article was coming out this morning. After the article came out, I talked to Rasir just to check in and make sure he was okay. I talked to his Dad. I tried to call his Mom, but I didn’t get her. Just wanted to make sure the family is doing okay. Just to see if there’s anything they need. When he gets back on campus, I told Rasir we’ll have more one-on-one discussions. Like he said in there, hopefully, this brings awareness and helps some other people out there.
Q: Have you and the team had any discussions about any potential protests or demonstrations in-season at this point?
Prohm: No, we’ve had a lot of guys, whether it’s George (Conditt), Nate Jenkins, Jalen, Rasir, that have been apart of peaceful protests, as well as, some of my coaches. We haven’t gone into any in-depth discussion or detail about things we would do during the season as of yet. There’s things I’ve talked about with people internally that I would like to see, but we haven’t discussed anything as a team yet. Not to that landscape. We’ve touched a lot of different topics, which I think has really helped, but we haven’t gone down that road yet.
Q: Do you think Blake Hinson’s comments on the Confederate flag and the role it played in his transfer from Ole Miss will help him in the waiver process?
Prohm: I don’t know. I touched on it earlier. I’m not going to comment on waivers, yay or nay, publicly. That’s not my place to do that. Like I said, if any of our players, hopefully, they know they have my support as far as talking, bringing awareness, trying to make a difference, using their platform, I support those guys 100 percent from that standpoint. Waiver yay, waiver no, that’s not for me to get into.
Q: Have you heard from parents or players with concerns about returning to campus? What will be your message to your players when they do return?
Prohm: I’ve been in communication with the parents of the players every Friday. Whether it’s by a phone call or text, I’ve tried to communicate with them at least once a week to keep them up to speed. We’ve had Zoom meetings with our guys every week. We just met with all the families over the last week and a half, myself, Vic (Miller) and Micah, to talk about the details and the importance of the things we have to do to have a great reintegration process and keep everybody healthy. The biggest thing is we’ve got a great plan from a standpoint of the day-to-day. The biggest thing we have to do is really, really talk to our kids and emphasize with our players to where when you’re not in Sukup, you need to be making good decisions. That means wearing your mask, that means not going out to eat, that means staying in your apartment as much as possible, washing your hands, all the different things that you keep hearing people reiterating. This isn’t time to be out socializing and have a great, great time if we want to keep healthy and if we want to put ourselves in a position to have a season. We’ll just reiterate making good decisions and staying away from the things that would put ourselves at risk.
Q: What has your message been to parents during this time? Has anybody voiced reservations with returning to campus?
Prohm: It’s obviously a unique time. I talked to all the freshmen parents. It’s a unique time. Can you imagine sending off your freshman for the first time and you’ve got, A, they’re a freshman, B, coronavirus and, C, all the social issues that we’ve been dealing with? You put those right there and that’s a lot. I think all of our parents, and I told them this on the Zoom call, our players have been phenomenal. Academically, making good decisions, not trying to get back here when we told them to stay home. I think our parents, all 15 of the parents, they’ve been phenomenal. You probably thought there would be a lot more questions when you go into those Zoom calls, but there really wasn’t. There was a couple we answered, but all the parents were really good. I thanked them for their support and their patience throughout, from some sense March, really, with all we’ve been dealing with. I think Vic (Miller) and Micah laid out a really good plan about how we’re going to bring them back, how we’re going to quarantine them, how we’re going to test and, obviously, we’re able to use football, too. They’re having great success.
Q: So you don’t anticipate anybody not getting back to campus next week?
Prohm: Not to my knowledge. To my knowledge, we should have everyone on campus by the 15th.
Q: How will you be testing? What’s the protocol with that?
Prohm: I don’t know the details of that. That’s for the training staff so I’ll leave that there, but we’ve got a really, really good, good plan that I feel very, very good about.
Q: On the basketball side, what kind of challenge will all this present in trying to bring along a team with a lot of new guys?
Prohm: I think, No. 1, it’s just July and that’s November. That’s a long way off. September 29 is actually our first official day. I think we’ve got a lot of time. Obviously it’s a unique way to work out this summer because the freshmen won’t have the true freshman experience where they can get some of the struggles a little bit with the workouts and then come back in the fall and be a step ahead. We’ll be in small pods. We’ll have four pods. We’ll have some guys workout two, we’ll have some guys workout in groups of three, there will be some groups that are a collage some groups will have a couple of bigs, some groups will have all three guards, just however we’ve got to set it up to keep everybody in the best situation to stay healthy. What I’m going to do, I’ve been doing this the last week or two, is spending a lot of time teaching, getting a lot of shots up, especially early, do a lot of strength and condition, they’ve got their conditioning program already set-up, but then also do a lot, because we do have a lot of new guys, just do a lot of terminology, spacing concepts, our style of play concepts, that’s kind of player development stuff, two-on-zero, three-on-zero, one-on-zero, them understanding reads and how we want to play. I think it can help in a way, too, because you can spend some time and really, really focus on that. Then, when they say it’s okay to bring six in, then we’ll change. When they say it’s time to bring 10 in, then we’ll change. I’m not trying to speed anything up. I’m going to go at a simple, slow pace to make sure we’re making the best decisions for everybody.
Q: As someone who works with young people every day, how powerful has it been seeing college athletes across the country use their voices to stand up for what they believe in over the last few weeks?
Prohm: I think it’s great. We all know, there’s much-needed change in our country. This is our future. These 18 to 23-year-olds, the college window, this is our future. I think it’s great. As we get back, we’ll meet more. I don’t know when we’ll be able to meet in person. We’ll continue to do Zoom calls. We’ll continue to learn. We’ll continue to grow. For me as a coach, I’ve got to figure out ways to be better. That’s just the bottom line. I’ve got to figure out ways to help my guys more. I’ve got to figure out ways to educate myself more. I’ve got to figure out ways to lead better. It’s not just my players, but it’s my staff, too, and making sure I’m open and listening to everybody because they’re all going through a lot of different things to where a lot of it, or really all of it, I can’t put myself in their shoes. That’s why I’ve got to be an awesome listener.
Q: Hard pivot here, but what kind of feedback have you gotten about Tyrese and his draft prospects?
Prohm: I haven’t heard too much. It’s quiet. The draft’s not until October. The sexy team right now everybody kind of throws at you is Golden State. He would love that. He could be with (Steph) Curry and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and Andrew Wiggins and all those guys and Coach (Steve) Kerr. I haven’t heard much. Obviously, I think he’s a sure-fire lottery pick. He’s in Milwaukee working out. I texted with him the other day, maybe two days ago we texted for a little bit. He’s doing well. I think his wrist is getting better and healthy. Obviously, he’s got a bright future. I joke with him, once he’s done playing, he’ll be the Governor of Wisconsin.
Q: What does new strength and conditioning coach David Land bring to the table for you?
Prohm: Hated to lose Pete (Link). He had a great opportunity to go out to UNLV. There’s a lot of opportunities there for him. What it did is it opened up an avenue for me to get my former strength coach back that I had at Murray State that was part of a lot of success there, that I have a great relationship with. I think he’ll be a phenomenal fit here. A crazy stat and I think it’s true, but I don’t know if it’s true, there’s not many strength coaches who have been part of two different programs that went undefeated in their conference. It’s hard to go undefeated in your conference regardless of conference one or conference 31, but to do it at two different schools, it shows that keeping guys healthy, keeping guys fresh, getting guys better, that’s a big, big piece of it. So really excited to get David here. He just got here, maybe, a week or two ago, him and his wife. We’re excited to get him here.