Vaughn's visit, date with Michigan highlight big weekend at Iowa State

Rashad Vaughn, visiting ISU this weekend, would be a huge get for Fred Hoiberg.   (Adidas)
Rashad Vaughn, visiting ISU this weekend, would be a huge get for Fred Hoiberg. (Adidas)

Fred Hoiberg didn't have a set plan.

He didn't come back to his alma mater in 2010 with the thought of making it "Transfer U."

But it's sort of happened that way.

Iowa State has become a destination for second-chance kids, even if Hoiberg didn't initially make that his intention.

"The specific plan when we got here wasn't to take four transfers in that first year," Hoiberg said earlier this week. "I wanted to get as much talent as we could to compete for a Big 12 title and it just so happened that a few years ago we wound up with four transfers in Royce (White), Chris Allen, Chris Babb, and Anthony Booker. We sprinkled in some high school kids and it's really been a good mix for us."

Transfers have been the main reason why Iowa State has won a game in each of the past two NCAA tournaments.

After Royce White re-introduced the Cyclones' program to the rest of the nation two years ago, two more transfers -- Will Clyburn and Korie Lucious -- took the baton last season and led Iowa State back to the NCAA Tournament where it nearly upset Ohio State and reached the Sweet 16.

Those players have set the foundation for Iowa State's present, one that looks exceptionally promising with another transfer -- DeAndre Kane (Marshall) -- looking like he's primed to be one of the Big 12's best players this season.

But what about the future?

That too, will be a major part of this weekend, one that could be one of the biggest in the history of the Cyclones' program.

On Sunday, Iowa State will host last season's national runner-up Michigan at Hilton Coliseum, in a game broadcast on national television.

It's an early-season event that Cyclones fans have circled all summer, but the game itself is just one part of what is an enormous couple of days for Hoiberg's program.

In addition to facing a Top 10 team like the Wolverines at home, Iowa State will also host Rashad Vaughn, arguably the top shooting guard in the Class of 2014 (No. 12 overall per 247 Sports' composite rankings) on an official visit. Sources have told that the two teams competing at the top of the list for Vaughn's services are the Cyclones and UNLV.

"It's a big weekend," Hoiberg said. "It's very important for our fans. Michigan is one of the top teams in the nation and they're always so well coached. It's a big opportunity."

It's beyond that.

Hoiberg has already established himself as one of the premier X's and O's guys in the sport. He's got the demeanor of an NBA head coach and has proven with guys like White and Clyburn that he's always going to put his best players in the right spots on the floor to be successful.

But those were transfers.

Securing a commitment from a talent like a Vaughn, a 6-6 guard who is eerily similar to former Kansas star Ben McLemore, would completely change the complexion of Iowa State's program.

The Cyclones have already proven that they have a niche with second-chance kids, but getting the top shooting guard in the country would mean Hoiberg also has the chops to land elite prep talent on an annual basis.

It would also make Iowa State a legitimate challenger to Kansas in 2014-15 for the Big 12 title.

The Cyclones will have arguably the conference's top frontcourt a year from now with Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue, along with transfers Jameel McKay (Marquette) and Abdel Nader (Northern Illinois). Vaughn's presence would only enhance  an already capable perimeter with current freshmen Matt Thomas and Monte Morris.

The momentum this program has nationally is palpable.

White put the program on the map two years ago, but last season's near upset over Ohio State combined with Kane's early season promise (he's averaging 13.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists through two games) has Iowa State's brand expanding well beyond the Midwest.

"We recruit all over the board," Hoiberg said. "We've got relationships all over the country. You look at what happened last year against Ohio State. We lost the game on a controversial call. I really believed we were playing as well as any team in the country at that point and I think people really got to see on the biggest stage that we give our players freedom. We led the nation in three-pointers made. We showed that we're exciting."

And they'll have another opportunity to show that on Sunday against Michigan.

The only difference is there will be a player in the arena watching that can make sure next season is even more exciting than the past few have been.

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