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Peterson: Prohm has big plans for his 2020 recruiting class — especially Xavier Foster

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Steve Prohm talk about he’ll use Xavier Fostet
Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

AMES, Ia. — Steve Prohm knew the question was coming.

Eventually, he knew one of us would ask about the big guy who chose Iowa State over Iowa earlier in the week. He knew the Xavier Foster and NBA question would come up, too, sometime during his first chat with reporters after Wednesday’s national signing day.

So, Coach, what role do you feel your success in placing former players in the NBA had in the 7-foot Foster’s decision to join your program next season?

We’d already heard Foster say: “My family is Iowa fans. I’m an Iowa fan, personally. But I just felt like I had a better chance at success at Iowa State. It fits me better.”

Thursday, it was time to ask Prohm what role former Cyclones Monte Morris, Marial Shayok, Talen Horton-Tucker, Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, George Niang, Naz Long and Abdel Nader being on some form of an NBA contract had on his biggest recruiting success. Add his former Murray State players, and Prohm has a part of at least 10 players with recent NBA experience.

“What helps is how much the former guys follow what’s going on,” Prohm said. “Monte texted me after the (signing) class came out. These guys care. They really love this place.

“That’s the biggest thing to show recruits.”

Foster gives Iowa State 2020-and-beyond help near the basket. He’s George Conditt with a perimeter jumper.

“That’s two guys that can really protect the rim,” Prohm said.  “Anytime you can put length and size around the basket is huge. You can see what George is doing for us defensively. Whether it’s three or four blocks a game … it’s tremendous.”

Two athletic shot-blockers protecting the rim allows perimeter players to aggressively defend the 3-point line — which has been problematic at Iowa State recently. Funnel 3-point shooters into the middle. Force them into the paint, where Conditt and Foster will be waiting.

“He has a good body right now; it looks good,” Prohm said of Foster. “You can play him a lot of different places — he can stretch the floor, and he gives you someone that can score around the basket, as well. The way we play, he’ll have an opportunity to play all over the floor.”

And have you heard the one about the guy from a mid-major college basketball program coming not only out of his geographical element, but also to coach at the nation’s highest level? I heard it all back when he replaced Fred Hoiberg. 

First, the guy lands one of Canada’s best hoopers in Lindell Wigginton. Then he swoops in to snatch Horton-Tucker, one of Chicago’s top recruits. Most recently, he wins the in-state battle for the State of Iowa’s best player.

Prohm can recruit very well, and it doesn’t just show in landing Foster. It’s also evident in the three others who signed national letters of intent Wednesday, a group of players that comprise what now is the nation’s No. 15 recruiting class of 2020.

Besides Foster, there’s 6-6 forward Dudley Blackwell, 6-5 point guard Jaden Walker and 6-6 guard Darlinstone Dubar.

“We addressed our needs,” Prohm said. “Adding a guy like Xavier, and then putting three perimeter guys that are all point guards or point forwards … I’m happy with the class. We addressed size and skill, and we got that.”

I repeat: This top-20 class shows Prohm and his staff know what they’re doing out on the competitive recruiting trail.

“At Murray, and I was there for nine years, we had some really good players,” Prohm said a day after announcing his banner recruiting class. “We had a couple NBA guys, we had high-level overseas guys. We had top-25 teams in the country.

“What you can’t do at this level, is get away from what makes you successful. You have to continue to recruit those same kind of guys.”

The fan focus, obviously, is Foster, who the Cyclones have been recruiting for nearly four years.

“Sometimes when you recruit a kid for a long time, they become bored with you, or a new hot thing will come in and sweep them off your feet,” Prohm said. “The staff did a good job staying the course with him.

“It’s great to get a really good player that’s in your state that’s right up the road — an hour and a half away. To choose Iowa State, I think is huge. We really recruited him for 3½ years. We stayed diligent in the process.

“A lot of people came in and out of there over the last couple years, but I’m really impressed with him as a kid. He’s got great humility, especially watching his press conference and listening to his interviews.

“I think he gets it.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of five 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 Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.

Source: Des Moines Register