Will the new infusion of experience be enough to overcome the losses of Niang, McKay and Nader? It is a tough question, particularly because of a weakened frontcourt that lost its three best rebounder. Iowa State was granted a spot in our top 25 due to the presence of Monte Morris. Coach Steve Prohm will have a veteran team and the sole improvement from last season is a deep rotation that will count on three transfers and freshman Jakolby Long. Unfortunately, the Cyclones lost Emmanuel Malou, one of the most interesting Australian prospects, who decided to play professionally before playing even a single college game.
Georges Niang could not finish his career with a Final Four appearance and his run ended in the Sweet 16, just like two years ago. It was an overall positive season, despite the coaching change, that started with 9 consecutive wins and continued with a few losses that could have been avoided, until the game against Virginia, where too many players made too many mistakes.
The coach: Steve Prohm
His second year in Ames will likely be more troublesome than the first, but his tenure will truly start next season, when the group of players recruited by Fred Hoiberg will be gone. He will rely on a fast pace and offensive efficiency, and their games will sure be fun to watch.
Key player: Merrill Holden (PF, Sr)
Holden is 6-foot-6 and the nominal center of the team after transferring from Louisiana Tech, where his on-court contribution will not be missed. Coach Prohm has no choice but hope he will turn into an efficient rebounder or it might spell trouble.
Prospects: Monte Morris (PG, Sr)
He averaged roughly 14 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 38 minutes on the floor last year, and few other point-guards did better. He should work on his outside shot, but his career will certainly continue once he is done with college.
Likely starting five
PG – Monte Morris (Sr)
SG – Matt Thomas (Sr)
SF – Nazareth Mitrou-Long (Sr)
PF – Darrell Bowie (Sr)
PF – Merrill Holden (Sr)
Relevant players from the past
Jeff Hornacek, Jamaal Tinsley