The December issue of Cyclone Nation Magazine includes our women's basketball preview and in-depth recruiting coverage of Iowa State men's and women's hoops. One example is the excellent article provided to CN exclusively by respected recruiting analyst Van Coleman.
Talking Future Cyclone Stars
By Van Coleman
Former Kentucky Coach Joe Hall once told me that 70% of basketball coaching is done on the recruiting trail. Because no matter how good you can coach, without talent you will struggle to win. Larry Eustachy will put in endless hours to get the job done. He doesn't like to fly and makes his recruiting trips in his car or RV. His dedication to getting the opportunity to sell the Cyclone program has paid big dividends this fall!
"Coach Eustachy drove twenty-two hours to sit down and talk to me about Iowa State," said Winchendon (Mass.) combo guard Curtis Stinson. "You have to listen when a coach does that."
Stinson didn't just listen but also committed to Iowa State without visiting Ames.
Eustachy then drove over 2,000 miles to talk with JUCO recruit Justin Holt of Tacoma (Wash.). Eustachy impressed the young man with that effort—and that trip led to a visit to Iowa State and another commitment. At 6 feet 7 inches and 215 pounds Holt is the Cyclones' only frontcourt commitment thus far. He originally signed with Oregon State but changed his mind after a coaching change. He was the state of Washington's class 4-A player of the year as a prep senior.
"Eustachy recruited me as both a person and a player," Holt said. "The players told me he can be hard on you, but he's going to be there for you too. That's the type of coach I need, so that's why I'm headed to Iowa State."
Holt picked the Cyclones over New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Marquette, and Washington State. He specializes in versatility. He can step out to hit the three or put the ball on the floor and finish in traffic. He is rated among the top 30 JUCOs nationally.
Most of ISU's recruiting emphasis thus far has been on the backcourt. With the questionable academic status of spring signee Jerome Harper and Ricky Morgan re-evaluating his future with the Cyclones, Eustachy and his staff needed to add quality depth. I say mission accomplished.
Stinson is a tough, hard-nosed combo guard at 6-2 and 205 pounds. He blew up this summer and played his way into our Top 100 preps nationally by winning the MVP award at the 344-team Adidas Big-Time tournament in Las Vegas.
"He isn't worried about stats and just wants to help his team win," said Gary DeCesare, his former high school coach. "He's a winner in every way."
Stinson can play any of the backcourt spots in Iowa State's three-guard offense. Last season he averaged 16 points and eight assists. He needs to add consistency from beyond the three-point arc, but makes his living off the dribble-drive or by hitting the open man on the wing. He picked the Cyclones over Rutgers, Memphis, Hofstra, Drexel, East Carolina, South Florida, and George Washington.
The second prep schooler to commit is jet quick point guard Will Blalock from Fitchburg (Mass) Notre Dame Prep. He averaged 20 points and handed out eight assists as a senior last year at East Boston High School. He moved to prep school to get his academics in line and is on course to becoming a full qualifier.
"He is a great defender," says his prep school coach Bill Barton. "He fits Eustachy's style and will get minutes from his defense."
Blalock also needs to become a more consistent three-point shooter, but the rest of his offensive game is top notch. He has an explosive first step and can flat out blow by people. He also has amazing hops for his size. Blalock is rated among the nation's top twenty point guards and will be a solid Top 100 prospect. He picked the Cyclones over Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.), Hofstra, DePaul, and George Washington.
The last of the backcourt recruits is Imari Sawyer, who left DePaul after a coaching change this spring and has transferred to Des Moines Area Community College. Sawyer, 6-feet tall and 175 pounds, was suspended after 17 games last season for academic reasons.
"He has to get things in line academically first, but there's no doubt he wants to play for Eustachy at this point," said DMACC Coach Orv Salmon.
Sawyer is a fine ball-handler and came out of high school ranked among the nation's top fifty players. He had his moments at DePaul, but never seemed to reach expectations. With a year under the tutelage of Salmon he should rediscover his game.
The Cyclones may not be done, especially in the frontcourt. There's 6 foot 9 inch, 235-pound Reggie George, who joined teammate Blaylock on his Iowa State visit in October. He scored a 19 on his ACT, but needed prep school to get the core courses to be eligible as a freshman. I first saw him playing with the Illinois Warriors last year. He's a raw talent who is extremely quick for his size. He has also heard from George Washington, Massachusetts, DePaul, Providence, and Rhode Island.
Other rising big men across the country include 6-9, 230-pound power forward Maurice Shaw from Gilbert (Ariz.) High School. He played very well at the Adidas Big-Time Tournament in Las Vegas this summer when we saw him. He is very mobile and has a nice touch from 15-feet to the block. Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, and Texas Tech were his early leaders.
Another big man the ISU staff has been out to watch is 6-9, 245-pound Femi Ibikunle from New Hampton (N.H.) High School. This African import is a physical force and is skyrocketing up the rankings. He first caught our eye playing in Las Vegas this summer. He has Memphis, Boston College, North Carolina, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. John's, and the Cyclones among the schools who've offered visits.
Finally, there's 6-11, 265-pound Jabbar Young. He originally signed with West Virginia, but is now prepping at Milford