Blalock's Coach Says PG Perfect Fit

Iowa State used to thrive on Jamaal Tinsley's penetration and looks to have another slasher in JUCO transfer Tim Barnes for the next two seasons. Now Cyclone coach Larry Eustachy can add point guard Will Blalock to the mix. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., is being billed as the perfect fit for Eustachy's system because of his offensive and defensive abilities.

"He loves to play the up-tempo style, is a full-court defender and great in transition," said Notre Dame Prep coach Bill Barton. "He is probably more of a finisher-scorer right now than he is as a polished point guard. But he's also a very deft passer. Iowa State's got itself a good player. The future will be bright with Blalock and some of the other recruits that they've gotten.

"Will is one of the best finishers I've ever seen. He's so athletic and flies above the rim. So many of those guys are athletic and don't finish, but Will does. When he gets to the basket, it's two points. It's unbelievable the percentage he finishes when he gets in the lane."

Blalock committed to the Cyclones last weekend after taking an official visit to campus with teammate and fellow Cyclone recruit Reggie George, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward.

Blalock and George are two of several D-I recruits at Notre Dame Prep this season. Backcourt mate Gary Ervin has already committed to play for Mississippi State next season. Barton said Eustachy and his staff made quite an impression on his two players.

"They liked the whole atmosphere out there," he said. "Reggie and Will loved the campus and basketball facilities. They came away speaking glowingly of the whole thing."

Since busting onto the scene playing with Leo Papile's BABC AAU team last summer, Blalock's game has blossomed further in practices at Notre Dame Prep, which opens the regular season Friday.

"He's getting better here because everyday he's playing against Gary Ervin or Carlos Smith, another Division I point guard we have here," Barton said. "Will is just having to improve by guarding them everyday. He was already a good defender, but he's a better on-the-ball defender. Here we stress the 94-feet man-to-man defense, so he's learning some of the intricacies and better ways to be an on-the-ball defender.

"Offensively, we are working with him on his shot. He is taking 150 to 200 shots a day. His other area he needs to improve is playing without the ball. Especially with Gary Ervin here, he doesn't always have the ball in his hands. He's working on going through screens, coming off screens and catching the ball coming off of those and shooting."

According to Barton, ISU first became involved with the star point guard on the summer AAU circuit. Eustachy had already met Blalock's AAU coach Papile, who's also the director of player personnel for the Boston Celtics, during his scouting of Jamaal Tinsley.

Through Papile and visits from the ISU coaching staff, Blalock got more accustomed to Eustachy and his system in Ames.

"(Iowa State) probably came out and saw him play during the open period three or four times," Barton said. "Leo Papile was out to Iowa State's practices when they were thinking about drafting Jamaal Tinsley. So he knows of Larry Eustachy's program and thinks highly of it. He mentioned that to Larry that this kid could play at that level and would be a very good player in the Big 12."

Barton also had a few comments on George, who is starting to get more attention since moving to Notre Dame Prep from the Chicago area.

"I think they're in good shape with him," Barton said. "Both kids came away very impressed with Iowa State's campus, program and Coach Eustachy. Reggie has room to put another 15 pounds of muscle and is going to bulk up to 250 to 255 pounds, then will really be a force. He can really fly and runs the floor well.

"He was not highly regarded and had very little fanfare when he got here and then he had a couple of great workouts and word started spreading. He's a work in progress, but is definitely a big conference player."

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