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?
“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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register
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