Matt Campbell looks to new leadership for the 2018 football season


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Head football coach Matt Campbell addresses fans outside of Jack Trice Stadium in preparation for the Spring football game.



It was his decision.

Coach Matt Campbell had a few discussions with him and his family, but in the end, it was his future at stake.

Campbell received a phone call before classes started this semester with a decision not only Campbell was excited to hear, but Iowa State was wanting to know.

On the other end of the phone was junior cornerback Brian Peavy. It was two simple words that would change the outlook of Iowa State’s defense next season.

Those two words?

I’m staying.

“The feedback from the National Football League came back and stated that his best interest was to stay in school,” Campbell said. “I was really happy that Brian [Peavy] came back because he has tremendous leadership ability and he’s a guy that can help us have success a year from now.”

Campbell said this upcoming season will be an opportunity for Peavy to not only build his leadership abilities as a senior, but also build his skills as a cornerback in the Big 12 Conference.


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Brian Peavy knocks TCU running back out of bounds during the Cyclones’ 14-7 win over No. 4 TCU. 


Peavy isn’t the only player Campbell is relying on this season with a senior class which graduated 22 players including leaders like Allen Lazard, Joel Lanning, Jake Campos, Kamari Cotton-Moya, J.D. Waggoner and Evrett Edwards.

Campbell was happy with how the senior class took on the leadership role last season and hopes it can translate into the upcoming senior class and generations to come.

“Like any program, you’re always going to lose [a senior class],” Campbell said. “You should lose good seniors that have made a big impact and the next group is ready to take over… We still have the heartbeat players that pump the blood into this program.”


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Iowa State running back David Montgomery runs with the ball during the 59th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 30, 2017. The Cyclones defeated the Tigers 21-20.



Campbell said these heartbeat players come from every position on the team, including special teams. For the running backs, it’s David Montgomery. For the linebackers, it’s Marcel Spears Jr. and Willie Harvey. For the wide receivers, it’s Hakeem Butler. For defensive backs, it’s D’Andre Payne.

Along with the heartbeat players, Campbell and his coaching staff have leaders in all four classifications, which helps for the future of the football program.

For the freshman class this upcoming season, Campbell mentioned kicker Brayden Narveson and his potential to help the special teams unit with multiple positions. He could potentially be the face of Iowa State kicking for the next three or four years.


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Iowa State quarterback Zeb Noland watches for a route call during the Cyclones’ 45-0 win over Kansas on Oct. 14, 2017.


In the sophomore class, the biggest names that jump out are quarterback Zeb Noland and defensive back Lawrence White. Noland could possibly be the upcoming starting quarterback, depending on situations like Kyle Kempt’s sixth-year status and the competition throughout spring practice.

White took over the roles of Cotton-Moya and Edwards during the Liberty Bowl last December as both were out due to team violations. Campbell liked what he saw from White in the game and thinks he could be a big leader for the next couple of seasons.

The junior class has many big names like Montgomery, Butler, Spears Jr. and defensive lineman Ray Lima. Campbell said these are players who could potentially see themselves at the NFL Draft one day, and can lead this 2018 football team to another bowl win and a potential appearance in the Big 12 Championship title game.


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Iowa State junior Willie Harvey celebrates after getting a third down stop against Memphis in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.



Finally, the senior class. This class has a number of impactful players including Payne, Harvey, Peavy, wide receiver Matthew Eaton Jr. and kicker Chris Francis. Campbell said these players understand they only have one more season to make an impact before their Cyclone career is finished.

“I think it’s huge [having different players from different classifications being leaders],” Campbell said. “Year one, we were able to create belief around these walls. Year two, we were able to win football games and put validity in what we were saying and what we were doing. And now, year three, there’s expectations that the process that it takes to get there, to be successful, is in place. Can you continue to match it?”

That’ll be the biggest question coming into the 2018 football season. Can Campbell and the football team take the bowl win from 2017 and reach its expectations for the upcoming season?


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Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell calls a play during the Cyclones’ 45-0 win over Kansas on Oct. 14, 2017.


The Cyclones finished last season with an 8-5 record overall and a 5-4 record in the Big 12. Now, their sights are still on the same goals, which are to win the Big 12 title game, win a bowl game and win a national championship.

Campbell thinks these goals are possible with this type of team as long as no “egos” get in the way of what him and his coaching staff are planning for the 2018 season.

“I think one of the truisms of this world is you don’t deserve your hopes and dreams,” Campbell said. “You got to work for it and you got to grind to get those.

“I think it’s a unique challenge that I’m excited to see.”

Source: Iowa State Daily

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Peterson: Don’t forget about the point guard while gushing over Lindell Wigginton

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Iowa State’s coach talks about what he expects from his still-learning point guard
Randy Peterson/The Register

FORT WORTH, Texas — I first met Nick when he was just a high school kid. His brother, Chris, introduced us a couple hours before an Iowa State game at TCU back in January 2013.

Chris was hanging out a few minutes before the Iowa State basketball team for whom he played was about to warm up, when he spotted his brother and some of his buddies walking into the gym.

“The kid’s going to be a star,” Chris assured me. “You just watch.”

The Kid, a high school junior at the time, stood next to the floor, watching his brother and teammates such as Melvin Ejim, Korie Lucious, Naz Mitrou-Long, Will Clyburn, Tyrus McGee and Georges Niang do their pre-warmup, nonchalant shooting stuff before what would be a 63-50 Iowa State victory.

The Kid said Iowa State was among the schools recruiting him, but that he was going to consider all options — before he eventually picked Arkansas.

The Kid, now better known as Nick Weiler-Babb, eventually transferred to where his brother played — to where he has grown up to be every bit as good as his brother said he’d be.

Nick’s back at TCU at 8 p.m. Wednesday, where his Cyclones face the 25th-ranked Horned Frogs. He’ll run the point, and he might even continue his streak of getting oh-so-close to the Cyclones’ first triple-double since Monte Morris against The Citadel last season.

He’ll be every one of his teammates’ best friend, as point guards usually are, and that especially pertains to superstar freshman Lindell Wigginton.

“I credit Nick for everything,” Wigginton said outside the locker room after last Saturday’s Cyclone win at home against Baylor. “He knows my game.”

So while rightfully gushing about how wonderfully Wigginton has played this season, and particularly the most recent two games, also remember this:

His success is directly related to Chris’ brother, to the kid who’s still learning a position that was foreign to him until the third week of this season.

“Nick gets everybody involved, especially me,” Wigginton said before practice Monday. “He knows I can score the ball. He has a lot of confidence in me.”

Wigginton has 57 points over the past two games — 27 in a loss at Kansas, and 30 in the Baylor game.

He has made 18 of his last 37 field-goal attempts. He’s made half of his 18 3-point attempts over the past two games — and guess who had the assists on each of those last nine successes?

Yep.

“Nick knows my game,” Wigginton said. “He knows everyone’s game.”

So as good as Wigginton has been, Weiler-Babb has been pretty darn good, too.

“He knows all the spots on the floor,” post player Solomon Young said. “He settles us down when we’re going too fast. He’s that guy.”

Weiler-Babb is the only player nationally averaging at least 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, according to the Iowa State media relations department.

His seven double-doubles have been in points-and-assists and in points-and-rebounds. During his most recent two games, Weiler-Babb scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds against Kansas, and 15 points and 10 assists against Baylor.

“We’ve tried to put Nick in position to be aggressive and make plays,” coach Steve Prohm said. “Nick sees the floor really well.”

Did I mention that he’s averaging more minutes than anyone in the Big 12 at 38.2?

That’s Monte Morris-type stuff, and he’s doing it despite tendinitis in his left knee that’s been around since last summer.

What’s all this mean?

It means Chris was right.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register

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Cyclones are hoping for no repeats of last season at TCU


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Iowa State men’s basketball players huddle during the final seconds of their 75-65 win over Baylor on Jan. 13, 2018.



A little over a year ago, on Jan. 14, 2017, Iowa State traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to take on TCU.

At the time, TCU was 2-2 in the Big 12 while Iowa State was sitting at 3-1. The Cyclones lost to the Horned Frogs 84-77 during that road trip last season because of two particular players, Vlad Brodziansky and Kenrich Williams.

This season, it’s a little different. TCU is ranked No. 24 in the country and holds a 1-4 record in the Big 12. Iowa State is not ranked, graduated most of its starting lineup last season and is 1-4 as well in conference play.

There’s one similarity though between the two seasons and it’s that TCU still has Brodziansky and Williams on its roster and starting lineup.

Iowa State coach Steve Prohm made it clear that Iowa State needs to focus on those two players and the entire TCU starting lineup at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena.

“You look at [Kenrich] Williams and [Vlad] Brodziansky, terrific players,” Prohm said. “Williams has gotten the point where he can make threes now. [Brodziansky] dominated us [last game].”

The biggest thing that freshman guard Lindell Wigginton and sophomore forward Solomon Young brought up regarding the game against TCU is defense.

It was a rough night defensively for the Cyclones last season at TCU. The Horned Frogs shot 56.9 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line. Iowa State was also out-rebounded 36-27 overall and 13-11 in offensive rebounds.


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Iowa State forward Solomon Young high-fives Brennan Swanson, 9, following Iowa State’s 75-65 win over Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2018.



Iowa State was also outscored in points in the paint (54-38), second chance points (15-12) and bench points (33-26). TCU won most of the categories in the game, resulting in a win against the Cyclones.

Prohm believes that defense will allow these categories to be in favor of Iowa State which will help the Cyclones get a second win in the Big 12. Iowa State is coming off its first win of the Big 12 season on Saturday against Baylor.

Even though it’s only one win, Young believes it’s a small sigh of relief to get that first win. Now, it’s just bringing that confidence to start a winning streak.


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Iowa State forward Solomon Young looks to pass during the Cyclones’ 75-65 win against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2018.



“Finally got the win, it feels good getting a win,” Young said. “Hopefully we take this as a motivation and continue on throughout the season.”

TCU returns all of its main players this season and its starting five is one of the most balanced lineups in the Big 12. All five players are averaging between 10.2 and 15.1 points per game.

That starting five includes sophomore guards Jaylen Fisher and Desmond Bane, junior forward JD Miller and seniors Brodziansky and Williams.

Those five are scoring 64.5 out of the 88.2 points per game, equaling 73 percent of the points. Wigginton and Young agreed that Iowa State will need to stay on their defender at all times to stop that consistency between all the Horned Frogs players.

“We just got to be good in our rotations,” Wigginton said. “If someone drives to the basket, not help too much, but be good in our rotations and know who we’re guarding and know our spots on defense.”

That defense from the Cyclones, if efficient, will decrease TCU’s field goal percentage, which is currently at 50.2 percent this season. The Horned Frogs are also at 41 percent from the 3-point line, which is ranked 18th in the country according to KenPom.

Iowa State won’t be getting much of a vacation on Wednesday as the Fort Worth weather looks to have a high of 38 degrees and a low of 22 degrees. The Cyclones aren’t looking to bring back the warm weather, but rather extend their winning streak to two games with a home game in sights this weekend.

“Collectively, five guys need to do a great job as a team to defend them,” Prohm said. “They are very, very efficient … But the defensive end is what’s going to win us down there.”

Source: Iowa State Daily

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Iowa State football picks up offensive lineman Braden Foster

Braden Foster is familiar with Iowa State football and knows what to expect as a Cyclone. He’s been watching his brother, redshirt freshman offensive lineman, Sean Foster throughout the past season. 

This morning, Braden Foster announced, on Twitter, his commitment to Iowa State and his excitement of playing next to his brother for the next few years. 

In his note on Twitter, he said, “After a lot of careful considerations and a lot of prayers I have decided to join my brother at… Iowa State University. Go Cyclones.”

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman played at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois. 

Foster didn’t receive any offers and didn’t have any visits, according to 247 Sports. He will be coming in just as redshirt seniors Robby Garcia and Jake Campos depart from the football team due to graduation. 

Source: Iowa State Daily

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Campbell: ‘We can come out of this as good or better at QB than we’ve ever been at ISU’

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Iowa State coach Matt Campbell hasn’t given up on Kyle Kempt being a Cyclone in 2018.

AMES, Ia. — Don’t freak out, Iowa State football fans. Yes, Kyle Kempt’s bio has been removed from the school’s 2018 website roster, but he was a senior last season. It’s protocol for the school to remove seniors.

It’s not a big deal that he’s not listed among quarterbacks Zeb Noland and Re-Al Mitchell and Devon Moore.

He’s attending spring-semester classes. That’s all that matters right now — until the NCAA decides whether or not to allow Kempt an additional season of eligibility.

I was among journalists who had one-on-one interviews with coach Matt Campbell Monday morning. I sensed something I hadn’t recognized before:

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Kempt talks publicly for the first time about the NCAA process he hopes will grant him one more season of eligibility.
Randy Peterson/The Register

I detected that Campbell is more optimistic now about the NCAA ruling in Kempt’s favor than he was before Iowa State’s 21-20 victory against Memphis in the Dec. 30 Liberty Bowl.

It’s just a hunch, obviously. Predicting the NCAA’s next move is always a crapshoot.

But still, there was that line…

“I feel confident that we can come out of this as good or better at quarterback than we’ve ever been at Iowa State,” Campbell told me.

More: Campbell hasn’t given up on Kempt being ISU quarterback in 2018

Read whatever you want between the lines, but would Campbell have used those words if he was certain the NCAA was ruling against Kempt?

Fans are certainly eager to know about Kempt, who had a 5-3 record as a starter during the Cyclones’ 8-5 season. He’s petitioning the NCAA for another season, claiming he was being “run off” the Oregon State team after a coaching change, and after a complicated situation that led to inactivity while playing at Hutchinson Community College.

Does Campbell know something that we don’t? Maybe, although I don’t know that to be fact.

“If the Kyle situation works out, now we’re talking about two guys that have played and won critical games, that fit what we want to do,” Campbell said. “As it sorts itself out, hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll have a better understanding.”

He stopped short of saying that he expected the NCAA to rule favorably for Kempt. Nor did he ever say that it’s a lost cause.

“It’s a really fluid situation right now,” Campbell said. “The percentages continue to go back and forth — yes, we think Kyle will be back, no we don’t think he’ll be back, and yes he will.

“It’s a little unsettling, but we have to prepare as if Kyle wouldn’t be coming back.”

So for now, Noland is the most veteran starter on the roster. Moore and Mitchell will get reps during spring ball that starts in March, too.

What else did the coach say?

On Jacob Park:

“I really like Jacob Park,” Campbell said about the quarterback who was released from his scholarship after not being on the active roster since the Texas game. “There’s a lot of good qualities about Jacob.

“You want to make sure you give him the tools and the resources to get through some of the challenges that he did have and does have.

“He still has a future in this sport.”

The two haven’t spoken in a while.

“We were supposed to meet during the second week of bowl practice,” Campbell said. “He didn’t attend.”

On his new assistants:

Campbell said he hopes to have a replacement for running backs coach Lou Ayeni soon. He also said former Kent State head coach Paul Haynes could be an addition on the defensive side of the ball — again, soon.

“Paul’s really sought-after right now,” Campbell said of the guy who has jobs at Ohio State and Arkansas on his resume. “We’re really good friends. We’re down to the final people with whom he’s looking at.

“With as much craziness that’s going on in the assistant coaching world, he’s being sought after by a lot of people.”

Among them?

Iowa State and Michigan State.

On alternate uniforms:

“We’re going to have new uniforms next year because Nike is redoing our uniforms,” the coach said. “How much different and to what extent, I don’t know.

“We’ll have new uniforms, but I don’t want the fan base to freak out about what the colors will be.”

And back to Kempt…

He’s testing the “run-off” rule, which allows the NCAA to grant additional eligibility for players transferring to a four-year school after being “run off” at a previous four-year school.

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee won his case after starting 19 games at Tulane —before Willie Fritz became the new Green Wave coach in 2016.

Iowa State hopes that same principle works for Kempt — despite sandwiching a non-playing stint at Hutchinson Community College between Oregon State and the Cyclones.

“They told me I wasn’t going to play there,” Kempt said during bowl week regarding his situation at Oregon State.”

He explained that in a letter he sent to the NCAA. He also explained what happened after transferring to Hutchinson.

“I just didn’t play there,” he said. “There were some things that went on … things I discussed in the letter that I don’t want to go into.”

The fact that the NCAA didn’t quickly rule is a good thing for Iowa State. Often, the NCAA requests additional documentation or details before ruling on eligibility issues. That might be what’s happening in this case.

“If he does come back, it’s almost like getting a fifth-year transfer quarterback in your program, yet also a guy that has glue intangibles — a guy your players believe in,” Campbell said.

Kempt, who led Iowa State to thrilling wins against top-5 opponents Oklahoma and TCU after suddenly replacing Park, has been going through winter conditioning drills.

The NCAA almost certainly will rule before spring ball starts, so for now, the only aspect of the quarterback position that’s a given is that Noland is back, and that redshirt freshman Moore and freshman recruit Mitchell (who already has enrolled) will get spring reps.

“We continue to develop that roster the best way we can,” Campbell said. “Not knowing Kyle’s situation creates some unique challenges, but we’re confident Zeb has a bright future here.

“This is a big six months for him. He’s still got a lot of growth in his game to make.

“Devon Moore is coming back off injury. Re-Al is here.

“We’re not a total a lost cause if Kyle can’t play.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register

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Joel Lanning listed as Lombardi Award finalist

Joel Lanning, Iowa State’s ironman, has been selected as a finalist for the Lombardi Award. 

The Lombardi Foundation announced today that Lanning is one of 21 finalists for the award that is given to one college football player each season that demonstrates good character, resiliency and leadership. Overall performance also factors into the selection process. 

Lanning can mark all four of those off, especially the performance requirement.



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Iowa State senior Joel Lanning runs the ball during the second half of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against Memphis.



The redshirt senior switched from quarterback to linebacker this season and dominated. The Ankeny native finished the season with six sacks, 11 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, an interception, two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. 

Simply put, Lanning did it all. 

The list of 21 will be trimmed to seven on Jan. 22.  

Source: Iowa State Daily

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Peterson: Don’t count out Kyle Kempt for Iowa State football 2018 just yet

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Iowa State coach Matt Campbell hasn’t given up on Kyle Kempt being a Cyclone in 2018.

AMES, Ia. — Don’t freak out, Iowa State football fans. Yes, Kyle Kempt’s bio has been removed from the school’s 2018 website roster. But he was a senior last season. It’s protocol for the school to remove seniors.

It’s not a big deal that he’s not listed among quarterbacks Zeb Noland and Re-Al Mitchell and Devon Moore.

He’s attending spring-semester classes. That’s all that matters right now – until the NCAA decides whether or not to allow Kempt an additional season of eligibility.

I was among journalists who had one-on-one interviews with coach Matt Campbell Monday morning. I sensed something I hadn’t recognized before.

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Kempt talks publicly for the the first time about the NCAA process he hopes will grant him one more season of eligibility.
Randy Peterson/The Register

I detected that Campbell is more optimistic now about the NCAA ruling in Kempt’s favor than he was before Iowa State’s 21-20 victory against Memphis in the Dec. 30 Liberty Bowl.

It’s just a hunch, obviously. Predicting the NCAA’s next move is always a crapshoot.

However …

“I feel confident that we can come out of this as good or better at quarterback than we’ve ever been at Iowa State,” Campbell told me.

Read whatever you want between the lines, but would Campbell have used those words if he was certain the NCAA was ruling against Kempt?

Fans are certainly eager to know about Kempt, who had a 5-3 record as a starter during the Cyclones’ 8-5 season. He’s petitioning the NCAA for another season, based on what he said was being “run off” the Oregon State team after a coaching change, and after a complicated situation that led to inactivity while playing at Hutchinson Community College.

Does Campbell know something that we don’t? Maybe, although I don’t know that to be fact.

“If the Kyle situation works out, now we’re talking about two guys that have played and won critical games, that fit what we want to do,” Campbell said. “As it sorts itself out, hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll have a better understanding.”

He stopped short of saying that he expected the NCAA to rule favorably for Kempt. Nor did he ever say that it’s a lost cause.

“It’s a really fluid situation right now,” Campbell said. “The percentages continue to go back and forth — yes, we think Kyle will be back, no we don’t think he’ll be back, and yes he will.

“It’s a little unsettling, but we have to prepare as if Kyle wouldn’t be coming back.”

So for now, Noland is the most veteran starter on the roster. Moore and Mitchell will get reps during spring ball that starts in March, too.

What else did the coach say?

JACOB PARK

“I really like Jacob Park,” Campbell said about the quarterback who was released from his scholarship after not being on the active roster since the Texas game. “There’s a lot of good qualities about Jacob.

“You want to make sure you give him the tools and the resources to get through some of the challenges that he did have and does have.

“He still has a future in this sport.”

The two haven’t spoken in a while.

“We were supposed to meet during the second week of bowl practice,” Campbell said. “He didn’t attend.”

NEW ASSISTANTS

Campbell said he hopes to have a replacement for running backs coach Lou Ayeni soon. He also said former Kent State head coach Paul Haynes could be an addition on the defensive side of the ball – again, soon.

“Paul’s really sought-after right now,” Campbell said of the guy who has jobs at Ohio State and Arkansas on his resume. “We’re really good friends. We’re down to the final people with whom he’s looking at.

“With as much craziness that’s going on in the assistant coaching world, he’s being sought-after by a lot of people.”

Among them?

Iowa State and Michigan State.

ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

“We’re going to have new uniforms next year because Nike is re-doing our uniforms,” the coach said. “How much different and to what extent, I don’t know.

“We’ll have new uniforms, but I don’t want the fan base to freak out about what the colors will be.”

AND BACK TO KEMPT

He’s testing the “run-off” rule, which allows the NCAA to grant additional eligibility for players transferring to a four-year school after being “run off” at a previous four-year school.

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee won his case after starting 19 games at Tulane —before Willie Fritz became the new Green Wave coach in 2016.

Iowa State hopes that same principle works for Kempt — despite sandwiching a non-playing stint at Hutchinson Community College between Oregon State and the Cyclones.

“They told me I wasn’t going to play there,” Kempt said during bowl week regarding his situation at Oregon State.”

He explained that in a letter he sent to the NCAA. He also explained what happened after transferring to Hutchinson.

“I just didn’t play there,” he said. “There were some things that went on … things I discussed in the letter that I don’t want to go into.”

The fact that the NCAA didn’t quickly rule is a good thing for Iowa State. Often, the NCAA requests additional documentation or details before ruling on eligibility issues. That might be what’s happening in this case.

“If he does come back, it’s almost like getting a fifth-year transfer quarterback in your program, yet also a guy that has glue intangibles — a guy your players believe in,” Campbell said.

Kempt, who led Iowa State to thrilling wins against top-5 opponents Oklahoma and TCU after suddenly replacing Park, has been going through winter conditioning drills.

The NCAA almost certainly will rule before spring ball starts, so for now, the only aspect of the quarterback position that’s a given is that Noland is back, and that redshirt freshman Moore and freshman recruit Mitchell (who already has enrolled) will get spring reps.

“We continue to develop that roster the best way we can,” Campbell said. “Not knowing Kyle’s situation creates some unique challenges, but we’re confident Zeb has a bright future here. 

“This is a big six months for him. He’s still got a lot of growth in his game to make.

“Devon Moore is coming back off injury. Re-Al is here.

“We’re not a total a lost cause if Kyle can’t play.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register

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Marner: Wigginton is special, but he has room to grow


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Aaron Marner, assistant sports editor 2017-18


By now, Iowa State fans have seen just how talented Lindell Wigginton is, and how much of an impact he has on this basketball team.

Sixteen games into the season, the true freshman is averaging a team-high 16.5 points per game. He’s second on the team in made 3-pointers and first in 3-point percentage. Only backcourt teammates Nick Weiler-Babb and Donovan Jackson have played more minutes for the Cyclones than Wigginton, but No. 5 leads the team in usage rate (24.9 percent of team possessions while he’s on the floor, per KenPom).

Again, Wigginton is just a freshman. Only 12 freshman are scoring more points per game than Wigginton this season. Lately, he’s shown that his classification may not be relevant to anything other than the class records future Cyclone newcomers will try to break.


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Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton goes in for a dunk during the Cyclones’ 75-65 win against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2018. Wigginton had his first career 30-point game and made a career-high five three-pointers.



But here’s the thing: Wigginton still has plenty of room to grow.

Offense

After Wigginton dropped a career-high 30 points against Baylor, Scott Drew, the Bears’ head coach, raved about Wigginton’s ability.

“He’s an elite scorer,” Drew said. “He’s got great strength. He’s really good off the bounce and obviously can shoot it. When you go from Oak Hill [Academy] and you’re one of their best players for the last couple years, he’s seen everybody, played against everybody, he’s just really good.”

But at 6-foot-2, Wigginton’s NBA future likely rests on his ability to play point guard. So far, he hasn’t shown much ability to do that. Weiler-Babb is the clear floor general of this team.

Wigginton has good vision in the open court, but when the game slows down, Wigginton’s ability to create for teammates suffers.

There’s that vision in the open court. He’s got the ability to find players in transition and the ability to hit them in stride, too. If Wigginton’s pass is half-a-second late, Jackson’s shot is getting swatted into the third row, but he times the pass perfectly and leads Jackson right to the 3-point line.

Wigginton’s strengths are his athleticism and physical gifts, which is quite different from Iowa State’s previous backcourt leader and Wigginton’s friend, Monte Morris.

“I’m athletic, I’m kind of an above the rim type of player,” Wigginton told the Daily before the season.

Wigginton said he wanted to work on things Morris does well, like changing speeds and his footwork. And, of course, he wanted to learn how to get his teammates involved the way Morris did.

But right now, he’s second on the team behind Nick Weiler-Babb in assists. Weiler-Babb is at 7.7 per game. Wigginton is at just 2.2.

“He’s a talented kid,” said coach Steve Prohm. “He’s a freshman though, so you have growing pains.”

While he’s already an elite scorer — his 16.5 points per game would be an Iowa State freshman record if he can keep it up the rest of the year — the rest of his game needs some work. And even his scoring could be improved.

That scoring average is impressive. But the consistency isn’t. Over the team’s last six games, Wigginton has three games with 23 or more points. He also has three games with nine or fewer points.

When Wigginton struggles to score, it puts the team, and Prohm, in a tough spot. He’s the most talented scorer on the roster, but he’s sometimes turnover-prone and his ability to create for teammates on a consistent basis hasn’t quite clicked yet.

In five Big 12 games, Wigginton has gone a game without an assist twice already. He had two more games like that in the non-conference season, too.

Right now, Wigginton is an elite scorer. Not just for a freshman, but for any player. He can get to the free throw line at will, he can hit mid-range jumpers and his 3-point shooting percentage is the highest on the team. When he becomes an elite facilitator too, Wigginton will be nearly impossible to stop.

Defense

“He’s starting to understand you have to compete at both ends,” Prohm said. “And that’s what going to take his game [up a level].”

Wigginton often jumps when closing out a shooter, even biting on pump-fakes, allowing players to drive for easy buckets when the defensive rotation can’t keep up.

Of course, this clip is from Iowa State’s first game of the season. There’s been plenty of time to work on that, and as Prohm mentioned, Wigginton has gotten better defensively.

“He guarded [Manu] Lecomte,” Prohm said after Iowa State beat Baylor. “We put him on Lecomte and I thought he really competed on the defensive end. That’s what I’m proud of him for.”

Lecomte was held to just nine points on 2-of-12 shooting against Iowa State. That was his second-worst field goal percentage of the season and tied for his third-lowest scoring total. It was the first time since the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament that Lecomte had been held without making a 3-pointer.

But there are still areas where he can grow. He still bites on fakes from time to time. Wigginton has had a number of emphatic blocks and steals, but generally he doesn’t create many turnovers. He’s currently third on the team in blocks and tied for second in steals.

Watch this sequence at the 40:59 mark of the video. Wigginton sits between his man and the ball, watching the ball in case it’s kicked out.

When the pass is made, Wigginton’s athleticism allows him to steal the pass in mid-air. He’s smart enough to recognize the fast break opportunity and turn it into an open mid-range jumper, giving Iowa State a two-point lead in the second half at the No. 12 team in the country.

That’s what his athleticism and basketball IQ allows him to do. Even against the best teams in the nation, Wigginton stands out. Now, it’s just a matter of doing that every game.

If — or, should I say, when — he’s performing at that level on both ends of the floor on a consistent basis, Wigginton can lead Iowa State to special places. Look at how good he is now. If the rest of his game can catch up, Iowa State might have one of the best players in college basketball before long.

Source: Iowa State Daily

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Peterson: Tighten your seat belt, because Big 12 basketball is just starting to get interesting

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Beating Baylor on a Saturday is a step forward in the process.
Randy Peterson/The Register

AMES, Ia. — Four of five Big 12 games Saturday were decided by five or fewer points. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber took a shot at the refs after his team lost by a point at Kansas.

Texas Tech beat second-ranked West Virginia. Oklahoma State beat Texas on a last-second tip-in.

And Iowa State finally won a conference game.

If you think Saturday was madcap in Big 12 Land, tighten your seat belt, because this madness is just getting started.

On Monday, it’s Kansas at West Virginia, and if you don’t think that game won’t have fireworks — you’re wrong.

It’s Oklahoma at K-State on Tuesday.

Don’t be shocked if Iowa State upsets TCU on Wednesday night in Fort Worth.

About the time you think this conference will start playing to form — you get Texas Tech fans storming the court after beating Bob Huggins’ team.

About the time you figure we’ll settle into the Kansas-always-wins-the-regular-season-title mindset — you get Kansas State’s coach railing on refs, and if you missed it, here’s what he said after losing the one-pointer at Allen Fieldhouse:

“I’m disappointed in some of the calls, and I hope you guys are, too.”

He actually said that in the media room after the game. Reporters wrote about it. His words are on the printed transcripts available to everyone.

Reporters disappointed in calls?

Gimme a break.

Fans disappointed in Kansas State’s slow-motion last possession — with seconds quickly ticking from the clock?

Now you’re onto something.

But honest-to-goodness journalists disappointed with the refs?

Moving on.

►►►►►

Thank you, Big 12 for standing firm with a 10-team league. Thanks for not increasing to 14, because the round-robin scheduling we’re in the midst of is exciting. It’s something that must be preserved as long as possible.

There’s no scheduling loopholes in what’s generally considered the best conference in the nation. Everyone plays everyone — home and away — just the way it should be.

Moving on.

►►►►►

Iowa State coach Steve Prohm wasn’t far into his postgame press conference after Saturday’s 10-point win against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum when he addressed this Big 12 strength:

When asked about the TCU team the Cyclones face at 8 p.m. Wednesday, he said, “It speaks to how good our league is when they’re 1-4 in the league and (ranked) 16th in the country. You know they’re going to be dialed in.”

Everyone’s dialed in right now, after a Big 12 Saturday in which four of five losers lost by a combined eight points.

“Never this tight,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said when asked about the closeness of Saturday’s games.

“Maybe we don’t have four teams projected to go to the Final Four, but top to bottom, you can’t look and say, ‘Hey, we should win this game.'”

Moving on.

►►►►►

In most other seasons, Iowa State’s Lindell Wigginton would be a favorite to be the Big 12’s freshman of the year. This, though, isn’t most seasons.

Not only have there been 14 conference games decided by five or less, Oklahoma’s Trae Young is the runaway best freshman in the league — and probably the nation.

Saturday, for instance, he scored 43 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out seven assists in the overtime win against TCU, and before you ask — the first of two ISU-OU games isn’t until Feb. 10 in Ames.

Young enters the week averaging 30.1 points a game. The next freshman on the scoring list is Wigginton, at 16.5.

Moving on.

►►►►►

Each team has 13 league games left before the Big 12 tourney at Hilton South.

Strap in. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register

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Three takeaways: guard play, fast break points, forwards play


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Iowa State men’s basketball players huddle during the final seconds of their 75-65 win over Baylor on Jan. 13, 2018.



Iowa State can now breathe a little sigh of relief. The Cyclones earned their first Big 12 win of the season with a 75-65 victory over the Baylor Bears on Saturday.

Even though there’s a sigh of relief, coach Steve Prohm said this is one of hopefully many to come this season. Here are the three takeaways from Saturday’s much-needed win.

The three guards need to be in sync

Last game against Kansas, freshman guard Lindell Wigginton came out of his low scoring and posted 27 points in the game. Tonight, he scored a career-high 30 points.

Redshirt junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb has been consistently reaching for a triple-double almost every game. He’s averaging 12.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game this season.


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Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton celebrates a three-pointer during the Cyclones’ 75-65 win against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2018. Wigginton had his first career 30-point game and made a career-high five three-pointers.


Senior guard Donovan Jackson has been a threat for the Cyclones the past two games as he scored 30 points against Oklahoma State and 20 against Kansas. Tonight, he disappeared with only three points, two rebounds and one assist.

Prohm said he wants those three to be effective all together in one game similar to the Kansas game. In his mind, if all three of those players can be good at the same time, it’ll be hard for other Big 12 teams to beat Iowa State.

“I saw 1-for-10 and we win by 10, I think that’s growth,” Prohm said. “We just need to get all three of those guys playing well, it’ll happen one day.”

Fast break points

Prohm always tells the media that he wants this team to have a fast tempo throughout the game. That fast pace showed in tonight’s win against Baylor with the amount of fast break points.

Iowa State outscored Baylor 12-0 in fast break points tonight, which Prohm was happy about because that’s proof the Cyclones were able to stop Baylor in the fast break attempts. Even though the Bears are a slow team, it was a big statistic for Iowa State.


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Iowa State has had a hard time with scoring fast break points in the past few games, so it was a step in the right direction for the Cyclones.

“We went out and executed tonight,” Lard said. “We need to execute every night.”

Post play was strong from three forwards

Cameron Lard has been the face of the post play throughout the beginning of this season, but Solomon Young and Jeff Beverly showed their dominance tonight as well.

Lard had his usual game with 11 points and nine rebounds. Young contributed to that dominant post play with 11 points and 12 rebounds recording a double-double. 


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Iowa State forward Jeff Beverly fights for possession during the Cyclones’ 75-65 win against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2018.


Young and Lard got into some foul trouble at the early part of the second half resulting in Jeff Beverly having to play some unexpected minutes. Beverly played 10 minutes and scored five points along with two rebounds. 

Prohm was happy with how Beverly contributed in the two forwards’ absences and hopes this performance can improve within the next few games. 

“I wanted to give Jeff an opportunity,” Prohm said. “He made a big jump shot in the first half and then that three.”

Source: Iowa State Daily

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