When will Cameron Lard play again for Iowa State? He’ll play when his coach says he’s ready to play
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Suspended, coaches’ decision or whatever you want to call it, if you’re expecting to see Cameron Lard play in Iowa State’s first game Nov. 6 against Alabama State, you probably can make other plans.
But then again, maybe he’ll play. So if you’re among the 6-foot-9 sophomore’s fan club, you might want to show up at Hilton Coliseum, just to be safe.
We asked Steve Prohm every way imaginable to explain the status of his potential star big man at the Big 12’s annual media day Wednesday — and every way he could, Prohm danced around our questions.
… Or did he?
Maybe Iowa State’s coach doesn’t know how long it will be before last season’s 16-game starter becomes an active member of the team again.
Maybe Prohm is managing by feel, by intuition or by what he sees and senses.
Maybe he’s evaluating how his once-troubled center handles stuff on and off the court between now and the season-opening game. Maybe it’s all of the above.
But this much is certain: Cameron Lard will play for Iowa State sometime during the nonconference season. I’ll predict that, with the caveat that he stays free of trouble and away from the crowd that played a part in leading him down a dark path last season.
As to when …
“There will be some disciplinary measures that I’ve got to hand down once our season starts, and at that time I’ll talk about that further,” Prohm said. “Right now, he’s making good strides, but he’s got a little ways to go.”
Iowa State needs Lard almost as much as it needs Lindell Wigginton. With Solomon Young sidelined until January after undergoing groin surgery, Prohm needs all the big men he can muster — especially when it’s a player with a world of potential waiting to explode.
“Like any young person that goes through some tough times, you wish him well,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “You hope he bounces back. He’s a terrific young player.
“I don’t know if he’s an NBA player just yet, but he’s in a league that has NBA players. He can compete with the best player in this league, and that means if you can compete with the best in this league, you’re a very good player.
“Knowing the kind of nurturing environment that Iowa State and Ames is — you hope he senses that and gets as much support as possible, so that he bounces back and has a strong season.”
After the Cyclones’ six-year NCAA Tournament streak ended last season, fans could show some angst with a second non-bid in a row. Lard could be that difference-maker; however, Prohm isn’t going to compromise his principles.
He knows his best big man needs disciplined after multiple transgressions led to Lard spending most of last summer in a Massachusetts wellness facility. Maybe you can get away with stuff scot-free at some places, but not at Prohm-coached Iowa State.
He didn’t play in the scrimmage last weekend against Nebraska. He’ll travel with the team to this weekend’s scrimmage against Wisconsin in Platteville.
“Cameron is making great strides,” Prohm said. “He’s doing a great job, but I have to make decisions of what I think is best for our program.
“If I have an opportunity to play some younger guys, I’m going to do that. That doesn’t mean he’s done anything else wrong.
“Whether I play him is going to be my feel during the game.”
Prohm knows what Lard can do. He doesn’t know what freshmen newcomers George Conditt and Zion Griffin can do.
“I may get those guys minutes, especially with the way we’re trying to play right now,” Prohm said.
That’d be with four guards. That’d be with Nebraska transfer Michael Jacobson at center, at least until Lard returns.
And just when is that?
“I’ll know in the next couple weeks,” Prohm said. “He’s got some things he’s got to continue to do. He’s a guy I’m going to stay on every day, and every week, because I want him to do well.
“I don’t want to start putting certain things out there or certain guidelines or a certain amount of games. And then what if he does something different? Or what if he does something better? Or what if something changes?
“Right now, he’s doing a great job and we’ll continue to evaluate him.”
Lard is an Iowa State basketball buzzword right now. It became common knowledge last weekend that he didn’t play, once someone put the Cyclones-Huskers box score on the Internet.
Did Lard do something wrong again? Was it fallout from previous trouble? Was he injured?
“There’s no situation,” said Prohm, who seemed irked that the box score of what was supposed to be a closed scrimmage was leaked. “Everybody is making it a little bit bigger deal than it is. Nothing new has happened or anything like that, so there is no story. It’s the same exact thing as it has been.”
“Cameron is doing a great job. Cameron had a great practice (Tuesday), but Cameron has some things between me and him. He’s got to continue to grow and get his habits better.
“When I feel like he’s at that place, then he’ll be with us.”
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