Iowa State Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger talks with a player during their game against LSU Friday, March 18, 2022, in Milwaukee. Iowa State defeated LSU 59-54.
Ever since A.J. Green shocked everyone by announcing his intentions to stay in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, there has been one big question filtering throughout the discussion of Iowa State basketball.
What comes next?
Iowa State has a couple of options at this point late in the recruiting cycle, and neither of them is necessarily ideal, but it is what it is and the staff will have to try to make the best of it moving into next season.
Dive back into the portal
Of course, Iowa State still has the option to use its last scholarship in order to fill that spot with a skill set similar to what Green would’ve brought to the equation.
The Cyclones could still use some proven shooting and scoring ability that its 2022-23 roster lacks at this point. One high-level player with that type of proven ability still in the portal is Missouri State’s Isaiah Mosley, who averaged 20.4 points and shot better than 40 percent from deep last season for the Bears.
Iowa State has never been connected to Mosely’s recruitment, but that is the type of player T.J. Otzelberger and his staff could theoretically try to make a run at late in the process with their options now open.
There are still plenty of other players left in the portal that can bring similar skill sets to the table, but few, if any, of them bring the kind of proven scoring punch that Green would have.
This spring has taught us you never know what can happen in transfer recruiting, though.
I’d expect Iowa State to keep their options open moving through the next few weeks.
Bank the scholarship
I’d probably consider this to be the likelier of the two options, even if it might be the less ideal possibility.
The program still made significant talent additions with transfers Osun Osunniyi, Jaren Holmes, Jeremiah Williams, Hason Ward and Tre King. This scenario would probably force at least one of those guys into roles requiring them to score at a level above their prior production.
In this scenario, you’d also have to hope for improved consistency scoring the ball from returning combo guard Gabe Kalscheur. We know what Kalscheur’s high-end potential can be (i.e. NCAA Tournament vs. Wisconsin, home win vs. Texas), but we know what the low-end can be as well.
Can Kalscheur find some consistency and be the team’s go-to scorer?
Keeping the scholarship open would likely open the door for incoming freshmen to carve out a bigger role, too. Everyone who has seen Eli King play up close falls in love with his game. I believe Tamin Lipsey will be better prepared for the college game than most people probably think at this point.
Demarion Watson feels like a bit of a wild card here as he brings a unique skill set to a wing position that everyone needs in today’s age of positionless basketball.
At the end of the day, Otzelberger and his staff likely know they’ve built a roster capable of playing at a similar caliber defensively to last year’s team, but improving on the other end is going to require someone (or multiple someones) taking significant steps forward to shoulder the offensive load.
Neither of the options are ideal when you’re comparing them to adding the two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, but they’re viable options all the same.
We’ll all just have to wait and see what ultimately comes next.