2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Iowa State

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Iowa State Cyclones (Last Year: 16-16, 3-13 in Big XII)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Royce White (So)/Jordan Railey (So)/Percy Gibson (Fr)

F: Melvin Ejim (So)/Anthony Booker (Jr)

G/F: Scott Christopherson (Sr)

SG: Chris Allen (Sr)/Chris Babb (Jr)

PG: Tyus McGee (Jr)/Bubu Palo (So)/Tavon Sledge (Fr)

Gone: PG-Diante Garrett, SG-Jake Anderson, C-Jamie Vanderbeken, G-DeMarcus Phillips (transfer), F-Eric McKnight (transfer-Florida Gulf Coast), SF-Calvin Godfrey (transfer-Howard JC)

2011-12 Outlook:
It has already been an interesting beginning to the Fred Hoiberg-era at Iowa State. Year one was filled with struggles as the Mayor began the resurrection of his former program. With three Big Ten castoffs becoming eligible this season, the Cyclones should be more competitive in the Big XII.

In losing three seniors and three players via transfer, there will be a lot of turnover for Hoiberg. However, four transfers become eligible this season so the Cyclones reload rather quickly.

The most highly anticipated of the transfers is Royce White. The 6-8 power forward has faced his off-the-court issues but brings a lot of talent to the floor. Sophomore Melvin Ejim (6-6) is an athletic forward coming off a terrific freshman season. Those two should form the starting frontcourt which will be slightly undersized.

There are solid options off the bench though. Southern Illinois transfer Anthony Booker is a physical power forward while 6-11 Jordan Railey and newcomer Percy Gibson will try to work their way into the rotation.

Iowa State will feature a smaller starting frontcourt because they will likely go with a three-guard starting lineup. Scott Christopherson is the team's top returning scorer and can stroke it from deep as he hit 44% of his triple tries a year ago. Experience certainly shouldn't be an issue with transfers Chris Allen of Michigan State and Penn State's Chris Babb likely battling for another starting spot.

Hoiberg could decide to start Christopherson, Babb and Allen, with the former MSU Spartan playing slightly out of position and running the point. More than likely though, he will choose between JUCO transfer Tyus McGee and last year's backup, Bubu Palo to be the starting point guard. McGee is more of a scorer than distributor who can also light it up from deep. Freshman Tavon Sledge (5-9) will more than likely be the odd man out.

Hoiberg also secured a pair of transfers for the future in Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious and Utah wing Will Clyburn who will both sit out this season, but be able to participate in practice.

Options are never a bad thing for a coach to have but uncertainty is. The Cyclones boast more talent on their roster than a year ago, but how quickly the team can gel together will determine where Iowa State finishes in the Big XII.

Player to Watch: Royce White, F/C
The former Minnesota commit should be entering his junior season of college basketball but has yet to play an actual game due to off-the-court issues and his transfer. He led the team in rebounding and assists on their summer trip to Italy while also averaging double-digit points per game which is a positive sign. If White can live up to the hype he had two years ago, the Cyclones could be a sleeper.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/25 vs. Providence (South Padre Invitational)
  • 11/26 vs. Rice (South Padre Invitational)
  • 11/30 vs. Northern Iowa
  • 12/3 at Michigan
  • 12/9 vs. Iowa

    Predicted Big XII Finish: 7th

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