Iowa State basketball roster receives shake-up

Chris Cuellar

A cursory glance at the ISU basketball roster from 2009 to 2010 and 2010 to 2011 will reveal a drastic shuffling of names.

Basically, this season’s edition of the Cyclones, who began individual workouts Wednesday, Aug. 25, will look nothing like the Greg McDermott-Craig Brackins fronted duo of the past two seasons.

Fred Hoiberg’s return to Ames dominated off-season talk for the basketball program.¬†Players departing and arriving like the Sukup Basketball Facility was O’Hare International were a back story.

But workouts have begun, the roster is set, save for Minnesota-transfer Royce White and the names will be sewn on jerseys sooner than the floor in Hilton is recovered.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride. Starting with getting the job, and the next week they’re talking about conference realignment. Then we had the floods hit. It’s been busy, but it’s been great,” Hoiberg said. “I think we’re building this program the right way, and I’m really excited about our year, and I’m really excited about 2011.”

There are fewer returning players than transfers that have to sit a year to be eligible. Guards Diante Garrett and Scott Christopherson will return to the lineup for the Cyclones, entering their senior seasons, with Garrett the only holdover in the entire program from 2007. Jamie Vanderbeken, a former transfer will also play his last season in Ames after being sidelined last year with a foot injury.

Coach Hoiberg will need the leadership these players can provide to succeed with so many fresh faces, and the tenured Cyclones are happy to provide.

“I had to sit back and soak it all in, because I had another year left, a new coach coming in and he’s going to be a great coach, ‘The Mayor’ of the city,” Garrett said, joking. “But we also got new players, different types of players than I had in the past, it should be real fun.”

Ames High graduate Bubu Palo redshirted last year, but will likely be a necessary body for the Cyclones this season. Coming from nearby Marshalltown Community College is DeMarcus Phillips, a 6-foot-2-inch combo guard who averaged 16 points per contest 30 miles to the east.

Four true freshmen have been welcomed to the fold quickly and will have to learn on the fly as they complete the roster and will likely see plenty of playing time in the competitive Big 12. Hoiberg plans on having the entire team on the fly, wanting a running basketball team that keeps running to put the ball in the hole.

“They’re working hard. We’re asking a lot of them, because we want to be a running team, so these guys are going to have to get in shape,” Hoiberg said.

The abundance of transfers will give Iowa State a talented practice squad and a good reason to look forward to 2011.

“We’ve got a pretty darn good scout team, and we don’t know about Royce yet. [Newly added] John Lamb is a spot up shooter, that’s going to be a pretty good group our starters are going up against every day,” Hoiberg said.

Three former Big Ten players have joined Hoiberg’s group and will wait to play for the cardinal and gold in an effort at professional basketball dreams and improving their games in a complex built in an old cornfield.

“I just saw that potential and opportunity were there. Coach Hoiberg has great plans for me and my teammates and where he wants to take the program,” former Penn State guard Chris Babb said post-workout. “He gave me a chance, like I’m giving him a chance, and I think we signed some other great transfers and the others guys with my year should make a great year.”

A major signing that preserved the continuity of the program occurred off the court as well, with associate head coach and top recruiter T.J. Otzelberger sticking around Ames after his boss McDermott and several players departed.

“There was a little uncertainty there, but as things kind of shifted, Iowa State is where I wanted to be,” Otzelberger said. “Fred’s done an unbelievable job taking over the reins of this program and leading us forward in a very positive direction.”

Former Minnesota forward Royce White, rated No. 19 on scouting report when he graduated from Hopkins High School in Minneapolis, is still a question mark for the otherwise locked-in Cyclones.

The program filed paperwork to the NCAA to get White on the floor in 2010, but Hoiberg said it would still be several weeks before the team found out his status.

Available Players:

Diante Garrett – 9.2 ppg, 5.1 apg

Scott Christopherson – 7.9 ppg, 43 percent 3-pt FG

Jamie Vanderbeken – 4.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Bubu Palo – Redshirted 2009 to 2010

DeMarcus Phillips – Marshalltown CC

Melvin Ejim – Toronto, Ont.

Calvin Godfrey – Robbinsdale, Minn.

Eric McKnight – Raleigh, N.C.

Jordan Railey – Beaverton, Ore.


Jake Anderson (Northern Illinois)

John Lamb (Morehead State)

Chris Allen (Michigan State)

Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois)

Chris Babb (Penn State)

Royce White* (Minnesota)