Staple's Decision 'Surprise' to Coaches

New Iowa State head coach Wayne Morgan did something he probably didn't want to do this weekend when JUCO transfer Damion Staple left Ames for Southeastern Illinois. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward arrived home with a release from his scholarship and was now able to pursue other opportunities.

But as it turns out, Morgan's offer was all Damion Staple needed to feel comfortable with playing for the new coaching regime at ISU.

"We just got things cleared up," said Southeastern Illinois head coach Todd Franklin shortly before 11 a.m. Monday. "Damion went through a lot of soul searching last night and didn't really decide until this morning. He decided he's going to stay with Iowa State.

"Because they had given his release to him and followed up with their word alleviated some of the concerns that Damion had in terms of being able to trust. The trust factor had to be rebuilt and that was a starting point of doing that. It may sound silly that the reason somebody goes somewhere is that they gave him a release, but it was the gesture on their part that helped."

Staple becomes the fourth of five players that signed for the 2003-04 season to announce plans to play for Morgan, joining East Coast preps Will Blalock, Reggie George and Curtis Stinson. Retaining Staple, however, became very difficult since Larry Eustachy and Steve Barnes played major roles in his recruitment and are now gone from the staff.

"He wanted to come play for Coach Eustachy and Coach Barnes, and that's still very disappointing for him," Franklin said. "But he's where he is now. The situation is something he didn't make, but he has to make the best of it. That's what he's going to do. He was ready for things to be done. He didn't want to go through any more with the recruiting process."

Cyclone point guard Tim Barnes spoke with his former teammate Staple in Ames. But Franklin, who coached the tandem in 2001-02, said it was more of Staple trusting Morgan and assistant coach Bob Sundvold.

"Timmy tried but I don't think that really had much to do with it," Franklin said. "It was more him trying to get comfortable with it and then figuring out what was best for him."

Staple's decision came late Monday morning after a lengthy discussion with Morgan over the phone. The ISU coach and Franklin had not been very optimistic the JUCO All-American would become a Cyclone Sunday evening.

"Coach Morgan was pretty happy and actually a little surprised," Franklin said. "He thought that he was not going to do that. Yesterday I didn't think he was going to do that, either. I asked him to sleep on it and make sure that he was solid with what he wanted to do. We discussed it again this morning. Damion's anxious to get on with his life."

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