Tre King gets excited during Iowa State’s 67-50 win over Missouri last season at Hilton Coliseum. Photo by Connor Ferguson for Cyclone Fanatic.
For the first time all season, Iowa State is expected to be at full strength next Sunday.
That expectation is due to the impending eligibility of Eastern Kentucky transfer Tre King, who joined the program last season and sat out due to transfer rules. The 6-foot-7 Lexington, Ken. native has been waiting a long time to step foot on the court in an Iowa State uniform.
That time is finally coming when Western Michigan rolls into town this weekend.
“He’s been here now for a year, I mean, when you really think about it,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said after the Cyclones’ win over McNeese State on Sunday. “How he’s worked every single day in practice, we know he’s another guy defensively, he’s got a presence.”
An Iowa State frontcourt that has already been markedly better than it was a year ago is about to get even better.
King is a versatile player with the ability to fill it up offensively while still bringing the defensive tenacity and energy Otzelberger covets. In his last season at Eastern Kentucky in 2020-21, King averaged 14.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while earning first-team All-Ohio Valley honors.
He finished the season ranked in the league’s top-10 in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks.
In other words, he brings the ability to do a little bit of everything.
“He can defend at the four position, he can switch screens, he’s got a physical ability to him,” Otzelberger said. “Offensively, another guy we can throw the ball to whether it’s at the elbows or in the post, and give us another scoring option.”
The area I’m most interested to see King’s contribution is on the glass. His 6.2 boards per game average in 2020-21 would tie Aljaz Kunc for the team lead at Iowa State this season.
Iowa State’s defensive scheme calls for centers to spend the majority of their energy by boxing out the opposing team’s biggest guys. Those block outs open up the lanes for guards to come in and crash with tenacity.
We saw Izaiah Brockington thrive in this role a year ago, but we’re yet to see one of Iowa State’s wings or guards truly cement themselves as a high-level rebounder. Outside of Kunc, only one other Cyclone is grabbing four or more rebounds per game, and that is Caleb Grill, who is securing 4.1 misses per contest.
The Cyclones need someone to emerge as their glass cleaner, somebody who is attacking missed shots with the idea that nobody else is going to get the basketball besides them. That mentality seems to be missing right now when you consider the Cyclones rank No. 246 nationally in opposing offensive rebounding percentage, allowing teams to recover more than 30 percent of their misses this season.
This is an area where King’s presence can be immediately felt.
We don’t know yet how many minutes King will play or how his availability will impact Iowa State’s rotations, but you already know he’ll be chomping at the bit to get an opportunity against the Broncos.
He’s been waiting a long time for this opportunity.
“Tre is an unbelievable young man. He’s handled this year with class and he’s been an unbelievable teammate, showed so much character, so I’m excited for him,” Otzelberger said. “He’ll get the opportunity, whatever that is come next Sunday. I’m not exactly sure from a minute standpoint, but we intend to give him minutes and get him out there and he’s worked hard to earn that.”