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Peterson: Iowa State basketball roster flip gets more complex, with Griffin and Grill transferring

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Iowa State signee Xavier Foster scored 36 points in a thrilling game against Bowen Born and Norwalk.

Des Moines Register

Really, can the Iowa State men’s basketball roster be more unstable than it is right now? Probably, but what’s happened since the Cyclones’ one-and-done Big 12 Conference basketball tournament showing can easily make fans wonder.

Tuesday: Zion Griffin left with eligibility remaining – which wasn’t exactly shocking.

Wednesday: Caleb Grill joined him in the transfer portal – which was surprising. Actually, the freshman who started the season’s final two games was the last player I figured would transfer. The absolute last. From many conversations with him, Grill gave the impression that he was as all-in as anyone.

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Steve Prohm says there’s a lot to like about Caleb Grill

Des Moines Register

Within the next couple weeks: Everyone is expecting Tyrese Haliburton to enter the NBA Draft, where many predict lottery-pick status.

Add them to seniors Mike Jacobson and Prentiss Nixon playing their final games on last week’s Big 12 play-in day, and that’s five who won’t be returning. That’s trouble for a program that lost 20 games for the first time in 40-plus seasons.

What’s happening also isn’t new. Some programs can withstand it. Some automatically re-load. Some aren’t in that comfy situation.

It’s a product of Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton leaving early for professional ball. It’s a product of freshmen Luke Anderson and Marcedus Leech leaving before this season even started.

It’s the result of plugging holes with transfers, some of whom didn’t pan out. And like all programs, some players with eligibility remaining eventually decided to look elsewhere.

Again, it happens everywhere. Players leave, some earlier than anyone expected. Overcoming that is a bigger problem now, considering the frequency with which players leave.

Even before the recent Griffin-Grill exodus, Steve Prohm’s next roster was going to include four high school recruits and sit-out transfer Javan Johnson. Assume Haliburton leaves, which makes it six.

When you’re only allowed 13 scholarships anyway, what the Cyclones’ roster is undergoing isn’t just a flip, it’s a full-fledged makeover for Prohm’s sixth season.

And don’t look now, but more could bolt. Defections always happen. Two usually isn’t critical, although at Iowa State, roster stabilization has been tough.

As of now and assuming Haliburton leaves, next season’s roster will look like this:

Freshmen: Xavier Foster, Dudley Blackwell, Darlinstone Dubar, and Jaden Walker.

Sophomore: Tre Jackson.

Juniors: George Conditt, Javan Johnson and Rasir Bolton.

Seniors: Terrence Lewis and Solomon Young.

That’s just 10 scholarship players, including four true freshmen.

“In a perfect world, you’d love to have a class of 3-3-3-4, or 3-4-3-3,” Prohm said, breaking down the ideal number of players in each class. “We’ll have some experience coming back, and then we’ll make the necessary changes in the things that we have to do in recruiting to get back to where we need to be.”

Where Iowa State needs to be, is improved next season. The first step toward that happening is hitting the transfer market – and here we go again. This cycle continues.

These aren’t the best of times to be talent-searching, anyway. There’s no face-to-face contact for a while, which is a good thing, considering our world right now. Telephone calls and written correspondence are the only means of recruiting communication. No one knows when or even if the NCAA will allow one-time immediate eligibility for transfers, but we’re assuming it’ll happen sometime. It’s not like that legislation is at the top of the NCAA’s agenda these days, you know.

It’s up to Prohm and his staff to figure it out. It’s up to them to balance the roster. It’s up to them to improve the program, and in case you missed it, here’s what the coach said after last week’s loss against Oklahoma State:

“It will happen, and we will get back to where we need to be.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of six decades. Reach him at rpeterson@dmreg.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.

Source: Des Moines Register