"I think it's a great class. Shawn Taggart and Kellen Lee are both top-100 recruits. This is a great group of players Coach Morgan is bringing in. Playing for a top-25 team would be spectacular and is a goal of mine. I believe we have the potential to do that over the next few years."
Marsden averaged 11.9 and 5.8 rebounds a game for the Little Cyclones last season, while shooting 62.8 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line. Although he would make a commitment to Morgan last April, he saw his recruiting stock bolstered by a strong summer of competition in all-star tournaments and with his Martin Brothers AAU team.
That experience could also prove valuable in his transition to Division I basketball, and playing on a fast-paced Cyclone team.
"We hope he makes a large impact," said Ames High interim coach Vance Downs. "He's got great size, runs well, and has very good hands. We think he can be a successful player at this level. We're very glad that he's going to be an Iowa State Cyclone and staying at home."
But the decision to stay at home was not always such a no-brainer for Marsden and his family, who preferred to stay in the background and observe their hometown program during its transitional phase of last offseason. ISU's 20-win season, late-season run to the semifinals of the NIT, and Morgan's style were all factors that drew them closer.
"Coach Morgan came in as the head coach, and it was a little bit of an unknown," said Marsden's father Hugh. "It was a tough situation that he came in to. But after the completion of the season, the success they had, and getting a flavor of his coaching abilities – that definitely helped us in the process."
"It was a long process to go through, but deep down he's always been a Cyclone. When we met with Coach Morgan and Coach Archibald in April, that really sealed the deal for Ross. They gave him a great presentation and sold the program."
Wisconsin, Valparaiso, and several Division I programs either offered Marsden or expressed the desire to. But his commitment to the Cyclones before the hectic summer recruiting period limited his interest.
"Wisconsin was there in the mix and had made an offer to us," Hugh Marsden said. "They have an impressive program, great coaches, and great facilities as well. A number of schools indicated that they wanted to offer, like Valparaiso and some others. But since he decided fairly early to verbally commit, there weren't a lot of others on the table. He got a lot of interest from schools, and if he wouldn't have committed so early he probably would have had more offers."
But could his decision to stay home lead to more pressure to succeed? Yes and no, say Ross Marsden and his coach.
"There is always pressure to excel, and I believe the coaching staff will help me do that," he said. "It's not too much pressure, though."
Added Downs, "I'm certain that there may be, but on the flip side there are some comforts as well. He's still in his home area and his family is very close. It's a give and take in that situation."
Marsden is interviewed after he signed his letter.
Marsden welcomes an audience to his press conference.
Marsden and his family pose.
Marsden joins a fall signing class of four players.