DeAndre Kane is the best-case-scenario transfer.
The Iowa State senior, a grad student who was previously at Marshall, scored 30 points, distributed nine assists, snagged eight boards and swiped five steals in the ninth-ranked Cyclones' 87-72 runaway win against No. 7 Baylor Tuesday night. (He was also responsible for six turnovers.)
It's now a school-record 14 straight wins for Kane and company. On the season, the ISU point guard is averaging 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.5 steals. The only other player in college basketball averaging a 15/7/6 stat line for points/boards/dimes is UCLA's Kyle Anderson.
He's been terrific. Fred Hoiberg has built his reputation on bringing in transfers, and it's reached a point where Kane could be the ultimate example of how that methodology can work out. I say this knowing full well Royce White was an Iowa State transfer who went on to be a top-15 NBA pick. To understand why Kane is at Iowa State, why he wears No. 50 and how his path led him here, read our story on him from a month ago.
On Tuesday night, it was Kane's best game of the season. And he could probably be showing better going forward, if you can imagine it. Iowa State's got its best chance at a Final Four in more than a decade because it has a solid stable around this point guard, and so he doesn't need to go for more than 20 every night. In fact, this was only the fourth time this year Kane's had 20 or more points.
In my estimation, he's the most important player for Hoiberg's team, a group that's accomplished things beyond all expectations and is helping to make this the toughest challenge yet for Bill Self to win yet another Big 12 title. Iowa State has the fittings of a formidable foe to just about anyone in the country.
Kane's emergence as an All-American candidate has been the catalyst for the culmination to a top-10 ranking. The Cyclones cracked the upper echelon of the polls this week for the first time this season, and although some scars will come in conference play eventually, it's hard to see how this team will find a way to fall out of the polls the rest of the season. Clones fans are now beginning to wonder if a No. 1 or No. 2 seed really could happen this year, something we haven't seen since Marcus Fizer roamed the earth.
More and more sports fans and media will start to turn their heard toward college basketball as we dip into league play. Iowa State can become a big story, and Kane can be at the center of it.