Mr. Basketball comes to Iowa State

Matt Gubbels

Ross Marsden had just quit the team, and the ISU men’s basketball team, running out of options, needed a post player.

Clayton Vette was planning on going to Indiana State to further his basketball career, but right after he and his Waverly-Shell Rock teammates finished celebrating their state championship, Sycamore coach Royce Waltman’s contract was not renewed and Vette pulled his letter of intent.

The Cyclones just happened to be in the right place at the right time to pick up their first Mr. Basketball in Iowa since 1991.

Vette and ISU coach Greg McDermott had a previous relationship from when Vette was in high school, and a few weeks later he signed on to become a member of the Cyclones.

McDermott said having that relationship helped when the scholarship and Vette both became available in the same week.

“We were lucky frankly for that to happen on a Tuesday and Clayton Vette to become available on a Friday,” McDermott said. “Anytime you can add a Mr. Basketball to your program is certainly a plus for us.”

Vette said that affiliation with McDermott helped his comfort level in coming to Iowa State.

“We had a pretty good relationship over the last four years when he was at UNI,” Vette said. “Coach Mac made me feel comfortable here and I liked all the players when I came here.”

Vette averaged 19.1 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game last season, and according to McDermott, has a body that is ready for the Big 12. At 6-foot-9-inches and 240 pounds, Vette brings some help with toughness and rebounding in the paint.

“Clayton’s a big boy,” sophomore forward Wesley Johnson said. “He’s going to bring a lot to us as far as being another big body down low, setting screens, and being able to post up on the block.”

Vette is joining an already loaded frontcourt that includes returners Jiri Hubalek and Cory Johnson, as well as Iowa transfer Alex Thompson and fellow freshman Craig Brackins.

Hubalek and Brackins are expected to start, but Vette will be one of the players coming off of the bench at the power forward and center positions.

McDermott said he was surprised with Vette’s understanding of the complex system the Cyclones run at both ends of the floor.

“I’ve been impressed with Clayton’s ability to pick up our system on the offensive end and defensively,” McDermott said. “The first time through, it’s not real easy.”

Vette’s high school coach, Tom Bardal, who lived across the street from McDermott at one point in Cedar Falls, said Vette is a student of the game and takes advantage of opportunities that other teams give him.

“He really understands all facets of the game,” Bardal said. “He has a tremendous work ethic and he sort of fits what Coach Mac has done with previous post players he’s coached.”

Even though their talents differ greatly, Vette did have a career that was fairly similar to the Iowa State’s last Mr. Basketball, Fred Hoiberg.

Both players won state championships in dominating fashion to cap off their senior campaigns and won the award for best basketball player in the state of Iowa, which is given out by the Iowa Newspaper Association.

Vette said winning the state championship meant a lot more than the individual award, but it is all in the past.

Now, his basketball life is all about Iowa State.

“But that’s over so I have to focus on this now,” Vette said. “I’m just trying to get my role down so I can help the team as much as I can.”