Mar 17, 2023; Greensboro, NC, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach T. J. Otzelberger gestures during the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State has another open spot.
After we all thought the Cyclones’ 2023-24 roster was set, Jeremiah Williams entered his name into the transfer portal late last week, opening up another scholarship for T.J. Otzelberger and his staff to fill, presumably with another addition from the portal.
Williams’ transfer didn’t come as a surprise to those close to the program. There had been questions about how the former Temple transfer would recover from his torn Achilles suffered prior to last season.
Once Iowa State added three highly productive guards from the portal, the writing was probably on the wall. Carving out playing time in the Cyclones’ backcourt is going to be much more complicated than it has been the last two years.
The question now is where do the Cyclones look to fill the open spot?
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Iowa State take its time and be selective with this last spot. The Cyclones already hit on their biggest needs of the portal season, and now they can afford to be choosey.
Expect to see Iowa State become a player in the pursuit of a frontcourt man, but not in the sense of the biggest fish that pond has to offer. Big men across the country are getting the bag right now, making it one of the most difficult positions to recruit in the portal.
For that reason, I’d expect Iowa State to target a developmental big who can help the program more down the road than in the immediate future.
After all, Iowa State is pretty darn set in the frontcourt with returners Tre King, Robert Jones and Hason Ward, plus incoming five-star freshman Omaha Biliew.
Again, there isn’t much playing time left to be carved out here.
That fact is a testament to Otzelberger and his staff’s ability to build a roster to this point. There have been years (usually under the former head coach) where a late defection could’ve sent the entire program into a frenzy.
That is no longer the case.
Late open spot or not, there is no reason to hit the panic button or to make irrational decisions and end up reaching for someone who won’t fit what has already been built in Ames to this point.
That isn’t overly exciting or dramatic from a fan perspective, but it speaks to the overall health of the program going into year three under Otz.
*** Iowa State tennis continues to roll after beating Drake and Wisconsin in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
The Cyclones will host UCLA on Friday at 1 p.m. at Ames High School for a trip to Orlando and the national quarterfinals. Fans are allowed and admission, at least for this past weekend, was five dollars.
Would it surprise anyone if people were posted up with cases of beer and their grills early Friday afternoon in preparation for the big match?
*** The best transfer in the portal is headed to Kansas. Michigan center Hunter Dickinson announced his pledge to Bill Self’s program on Thursday and immediately vaulted the Jayhawks back into the national title conversation.
I’d be surprised if Dickinson doesn’t thrive in Self’s system, which has been pumping out quality big men for two decades. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Dickinson will be a first-team All-American playing for Self.
*** Iowa State guard Jaren Holmes took one of his first steps toward his professional future last week during the NTX Combine in Texas. He scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished two assists during his last game at the event.
I’d be very surprised if Holmes doesn’t have a long professional future, but if basketball doesn’t work out, he could be an absolute star in the sports media world by using his sports media degree from St. Bonaventure.
*** The NCAA rules committee proposed further changes to the block/charge call late last week. The proposed change will for defenders to be in a position to “draw a charge at the time an offensive player plants his foot to go airborne to attempt a field goal,” according to the NCAA release.
The proposal comes in response to coaches’ feedback that too many charges were being called in college basketball, and I would tend to agree. The charge has been weaponized with defenses building their scheme around forcing offenses into player-control fouls.
Who knows if the rule will be applied correctly, that is if it is approved by the NCAA oversight committee next month, but it feels like a step in the right direction to preventing defenders from being rewarded for basically being fallen on.
*** DraftKings released its initial win totals for the college football season on Friday, and Iowa State’s came in at a projected 5.5 wins in 2023. I thought it was interesting to see new Big 12 members Cincinnati and Houston projected with 4.5 in their first year in the league.
Right now, gun to my head, I’d lean over on Iowa State’s total, but I’d probably only put Chris Williams’ money on it.