Odds to win title: +3300
2014-15 Record: 25-9, 12-6 Big 12
Fred Holberg’s former team is among the best clubs in the Big 12 and are tournament threats again this year with odds at a title set at +3300 on oddsmaker Bovada. The team returns four starters and won 25 games last year, but it was upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
With two other rotation players back and a couple of good transfer guards, the Cyclones should be knocking on the door in March.
In the backcourt the Cyclones have Monte Morris, a second team all Big-12 selection. He is going to be in his junior season and has a chance to become just the eight player in D-1 history to lead the NCAA in assists to turnovers for the third straight season.
Morris was good for 4.61 to 1 last year, and his scoring average leaped from 6.8 his freshman year to 11.9 last year. He is the only active Big 12 player with at least 300 career assists and 100 steals, and he averaged 3.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game last season.
Next to Morris at 2-guard is Nazareth Mitrou-Long who spent the last three seasons known as Naz Long, but he went back to his birth name to honor his mother. He hit 77 threes last year while posting 10.1 points per game and averaged 2.2 threes per game along with 2.9 rebounds per game. Matt Thomas is back off the bench, and Hallice Cooke and Deonte Burton will also be in the mix for minutes.
Georges Niang is the Cyclones best player and has a chance to win Conference Player of the Year. He is one of 15 players to average 15 points, five rebounds and three assists last year. He led the team in scoring at 15.3 and was good for 5.4 boards per game.
Niang is fifth among D-1 active scorers with 1,510 points. Jameel McKay will be eligible mid-season and he shot 58.3 percent from the floor while averaging 11 points per game in 25 appearances.
McKay is a very strong defender and he blocked 59 shots last year, the third most by an Iowa State junior. He ranked second in the league averaging 2.4 per game. Abdel Nader will be in the mix for minutes since Dustin Hogue is gone. The Cyclones lost 7’1” Georgics Tsalmpouris, after he returned to Greece for the summer and opted not to return.
Emmanuel Malou is a 6’9″ monster who will be at Iowa State after deciding not to enter the NBA Draft. HC Steve Prohm also brought in a transfer point guard in Donovan Jackson. He will ultimately take Morris’ place when he departs. Prohm honed several great guards at Murray State so that bodes well for both Morris and Jackson.
Steve Prohm has a tough task on his hands but Niang will keep this team competitive. There is plenty of firepower for him to step in and pick up right where Holberg left off. “There’s a lot of really good teams and coaches, but I like our group..we just have to develop some depth,” said Prohm.