As Steve Prohm and Co. attempt to live up to the expectations that will come with being a preseason top-10 team, they are presented with a second challenge that will have major implications on Year 2 and the ultimate future of the program.
Iowa State must replenish nearly half of its scholarships for 2016.
The good news for Iowa State is that a fraction of that work has now been completed early — and in a matter of two days — after the Cyclones picked up a commitment from JUCO point guard Donovan Jackson on Sunday night followed by a commitment from high school forward Solomon Young on Monday.
Now, Iowa State is left with four open scholarships.
So, what’s next?
How many scholarships?
This appears to be a simple question because Iowa State had six open scholarships for 2016 and filled two. So, in reality, the Cyclones have four open scholarships remaining. For the foreseeable future, that will be the case.
With that said, that number could go up.
If Monte Morris departs following his junior season for the NBA Draft, Iowa State will have an additional scholarship to work with come spring. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean a 2016 prospect. The Cyclones could bank the scholarship for a mid-year player come late 2016 or take a sit-out transfer.
Nothing is set in stone with the scholarship number. Then again, it never really is given the fact that attrition occurs at every school.
Let’s proceed working with four scholarships.
Areas of Focus
Iowa State has wanted to sign two point guards, potentially a two-guard and likely three forwards in the 2016 class to bolster the roster, and it has slimmed that number down with the addition of both a point guard and forward.
The Cyclones are still on the lookout for another point guard (more in a second) and a combo guard. They’ll likely still take multiple forwards, but there is an expectation that Iowa State is looking at two different styles there.
The Key Targets
Iowa State’s point guard focus is locked on high school prospect Xavier Simpson, who took an official visit to Iowa State from Aug. 7-9. Simpson has since visited Illinois, could soon stop at Wisconsin and will visit Miami (FL) on Sept. 11. The commitment of Jackson does not change Iowa State’s pursuit or plans for Simpson.
In addition to Jackson and Simpson, Iowa State was previously targeting JUCO guard Darrion Strong. That also doesn’t change. Iowa State likes Strong and sees him as a player who can play both point guard as well as at two-guard. Same goes for high school guard Jakolby Long, who Iowa State likes as a two-guard.
When it comes to forwards, there are multiple prospects and styles.
Iowa State has appeared to put emphasis on high school forward Jeriah Horne. He’s a versatile forward who shows similarities to Georges Niang offensively because of his ability to be a point-forward, step-out shooter and an overall versatile defender. He is unlike some other Iowa State forward targets because of this.
Among the other forwards (there are more) in the mix are high school prospects Romello White and Eric Curry and JUCO prospects Emmanuel Malou and Arlando Cook. Because of their size, both Malou and Cook might be more likely to play the five. Like Young, White is more of a low-block physical inside presence.
Iowa State ideally would appear to be interested in adding at least two (maybe even three) more prospects by the mid-year date on Nov. 11, and there are prospects who will make decisions before or around then. Simpson will likely decide in September, Horne expects to decide in October and Strong will likely come to a decision in November.
That could play out well in terms of spring signees. Cook has expressed a desire to wait until the spring to decide while Malou’s timeline is still up in the air.