Dec 9, 2021; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Aljaz Kunc (5) celebrates during their game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Aljaz “Jazz” Kunc has quietly emerged as the type of player one can see becoming the Big 12’s Sixth-Man of the Year.

As he battled through lingering injuries in the pre-season, it took Kunc a couple of games to get his legs under him.

However, since his breakout performance against Grambling, when he went for a career-high 21 points on 5-5 shooting from the three-point line, Jazz has been nothing short of stellar.

Currently averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, Kunc’s stat line does not paint the entire picture of how well he is playing. 

To begin, let’s make a note that he is shooting 59% from the field and 50% from the three, that is remarkable efficiency.

Defensively, Kunc is one of the most cerebral players in the Big 12. Taking three charges in one game this season speaks to just how active he is on his assignments.

He is a productive rebounder with his basketball instincts and understanding of leverage. He constantly deflects loose balls to teammates, is a catalyst on this team’s crisp defensive rotations and personifies the energy and effort that are this year’s Cyclones.

I said it in the broadcast of Sunday’s game, but it’s worth repeating, Jazz constantly makes winning basketball plays. 

Iowa State has several role players that can help catapult this team to victory on any given night, but I look for Jazz to emerge into a more prominent role as the Big 12 season approaches.

This team would be wise to recognize how well he is shooting the ball and look to help create more opportunities for him.

I also think Jazz can help initiate offense out of the high post, both as a scorer and passer. He is great as a trailing four-man and is crafty enough around the basket to make teams pay or help find open teammates. 

One thing that will change as conference season begins is the detail and degree to which other teams will scout their opponents.

Teams are going to do what they can to deny players like Tyrese Hunter and Izaiah Brockington from attacking the rim.

It will be on players like Jazz to consistently penalize opponents for trying to take away Iowa State’s primary actions.

Jazz possesses an intriguing skill set, feel for the game, and basketball I.Q. that can give this team the kind of offensive boost they may need as we ramp up for Big 12 play.

Cyclone Nation is buzzing about the prospects of this team making a run in March.

If they are to be dancing this year, I think it will likely be to the tune of some smooth jazz. 


Scott Christopherson


Scott played 3 seasons for the Iowa State Cyclones, scoring over 1,000 points and finishing third-team all-conference as a senior while helping lead the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament. In 2012 he graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Finance and currently works in Indirect Lending for BMO Harris Bank and is also pursuing his MBA at St. Thomas University. Scott is passionate about leadership, teaching, and business. When he isn't working, Scott can be found spending time with his wife Kelly and their twin boys, Noah and Isaiah.