With five transfers itching to play next season after sitting out games and only practicing with Iowa State in 2010-11, the Cyclones figure to look different.
"People think we're going to automatically be better next year," said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.
He knows not to take such improvement for granted, but after the Cyclones finished 16-16 with a last-place mark of 3-13 in the Big 12, the optimism is warranted. Particularly if former Big Ten contributors such as forward Royce White (Minnesota) and shooting guard Chris Babb (Penn State) give the Cyclones an immediate spark.
Chris Allen (Michigan State), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois) and John Lamb (Morehead State) are other Division I transfers who figure to step in right away. Another transfer, Korie Lucious of Michigan State, must sit out a year.
Oh, a handful of key returnees exist too, led by long-range threat Scott Christopherson and forward Calvin Godfrey. How all this talent pans out is anyone's guess, especially since Hoiberg remains an inexperienced coach, but the material is promising.
"They've got Chris Babb hitting the threes, Chris Allen gets to the basket and hits some threes, and they've got Booker down low and Royce and John Lamb out there," senior point guard Diante Garrett said when asked by the Des Moines Register to assess the team's future. "Calvin and Melvin, those guys have been through all that this year, so they'll be ready for it. I can't wait to see how good that team's going to be."
Neither can Hoiberg. When he took over at Iowa State, he recognized that a quick upgrade in talent was necessary and made sure transfers knew his program was safe haven. But even without that help becoming eligible right away, Hoiberg made the Cyclones competitive. Eight of their league defeats were decided by single digits, and their first-round loss at the Big 12 Tournament was a 77-75 setback against Colorado.
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