Mar 17, 2023; Greensboro, NC, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Tamin Lipsey (3) goes to the basket past Pittsburgh Panthers guard Jamarius Burton (11) during the first half at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
It has been a busy offseason for Iowa State men’s basketball.
The Cyclones have already added three highly productive players via the transfer portal and have one scholarship left open if they choose to use it for their 2023-24 roster. The more time goes on, I find myself more and more confident the staff will just bank its last open spot.
The returning players are already deep into their offseason preparations before the rest of the team will join them early next month.
Things will only keep getting busier as the staff prepares to hit the recruiting trail to continue its pursuit of the next crop of Cyclones, and nobody knows that busy time better than associate head coach Kyle Green.
Green, speaking with Cyclone Fanatic during the annual Cyclone Tailgate Tour yesterday in Paton, said he’s pleased with the way the offseason has come together for the Cyclones, starting with the three transfer additions of Wofford guard Jackson Paveletzke, UNLV guard Keshon Gilbert and Buffalo guard Curtis Jones.
“First and foremost, we wanted to continue to get guys that fit the culture that we have in the program,” Green said. “The competitiveness and the toughness and that defensive minded mentality, but obviously we need some guys that could shoot the ball, right? We needed to add more ball handling on the perimeter offensively and guys that could shoot the ball, play within our system, stretch the floor, and put a little more more space on the floor on the offensive end. I think with these three guys, we address those needs, without a doubt.”
All three guys fit well alongside returning point guard Tamin Lipsey, who earned All-Big 12 Freshman honors this past season while averaging 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Green hopes the added ability to handle the basketball will take pressure off of Lipsey, and allow him to operate in different ways besides always having to handle the pressure of Big 12 defenses on the basketball.
“Tamin’s such an unselfish player and does a great job of getting to the paint and creating offense,” Green said. “One, now he’s got guys to go to that can make it, right? Now, they’ve got to defensively stand close to those guys, which gives him a little more space to operate and get into the paint and play off of him well. It will alleviate some of the ball handling pressure that he was under. Really, he was our primary ball handler last year. Had to play a lot of minutes. That wears on you whether you’re a freshman or a senior. I think we got some other guys that can do some of those things and put him in different positions to be successful.”
The biggest knock on Lipsey’s game at this point is his shooting, which was more or less non-existent during his freshman season with the program.
That will be one of this biggest focuses during the offseason, and Green expects to see improvement in that area purely because he knows Lipsey will put in the work to make it better.
“A lot of it is just putting him in those situations to be successful and develop that confidence,” Green said. “The thing about Tamin is he’s going to put the work in, and he’s in the gym, shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting. That won’t be for lack of effort in that regard. I don’t know if that’ll ever be who he is, right? He’ll always be the kind of a score second, pass first, defend first, create offense and in that he’s got other things offensively that you can’t teach like offensive rebounding. I’m not sure I’ve coached a guard who’s got a better knack for offensive rebounding that can create offense in different ways other than scoring. I think he’s extremely valuable offensive player just not a scorer.”
The Cyclones will also return three of their top four frontcourt options and the staff is excited to see what that group, especially Hason Ward and Tre King, are able to do with full offseason programs.
Ward showed up on campus very late last summer after issues with his visa left him spending nearly the entire period in his home country of Barbados, which Green said has few basketball courts in the entire country to work on your game.
If you’re looking for a returning player with the potential to make a huge leap, that’s your guy right there.
“Gonna be fun to see how Hason after having a whole year in the program, improves and shows kind of what he can do,” Green said. “He’s so athletic. Now, he’s put on some weight. He’s got a better feel for how we want to defend and where we want to go offensively. He’ll take another step offensively with his ability to roll the rim and finish and offensive rebound. Rob (Jones), same thing. Rob’s got to continue to, like we talked about with Tamin, gaining that confidence offensively to be a consistent workhorse threat. He’s certainly got that ability. We’re excited about that. Tre King, again, Tre had a semester, right? He had a conference season. To have him for the whole offseason now, going into next year, get a whole non-conference season under his belt, I think that’ll be a tremendous help.”