Men’s basketball preseason roster breakdown: Backcourt

Rasir Bolton goes up for a layup against Texas on Feb. 15.

Zane Douglas

The men’s basketball season is fast approaching, with the team well into practice season. By the end of November, Iowa State will start its season Nov. 29 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Cyclones are looking for answers before the season starts, particularly in their backcourt when it comes to depth and who the main scoring options will be.

Who will fill the playmaking and scoring role of Tyrese Haliburton and how will the depth fill out without Haliburton, Caleb Grill, Terrence Lewis or Prentiss Nixon?

Rasir Bolton 

Coming in as the heir apparent to Haliburton’s role as point guard, junior guard Rasir Bolton was one of Iowa State’s best scoring options last season.

As a transfer from Penn State, Bolton started all 30 games he played for Iowa State, scoring 14.7 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting and 33.6 percent from three.

Bolton was one of two Cyclones, Haliburton being the other, who averaged double figures in points. The two played off each other well, but with Haliburton gone, Bolton will be asked to take a bigger workload and could also be given more point guard duties.

Something Bolton did much better than Haliburton was driving to the basket and drawing fouls.

Not only did the junior average 4.6 free throws per game — the highest on the team by a big margin — but he also took advantage of those opportunities with an 84.8 percent free throw percentage.

Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm is looking for the junior to take on a bigger leadership role. He also wants Bolton to be a more impactful defensive player and a more efficient player on the offensive end.

“He’s gotta challenge himself on the defensive end of the floor,” Prohm said. “Flip to the offensive side, if you’re gonna be an elite point guard, and we’ve been blessed to have several of them over the years, you gotta put yourself in a position to be a three to one assist-to-turnover ratio guy.”

Tre Jackson

Tre Jackson will now be coming into his sophomore year after a weird freshman season that saw him thrust into a starting role with limited guard depth as the season went on.

Jackson’s role started off as a small one, where the then-freshman was asked to be able to play a “three and D” style of play for Prohm.

His shooting woes started early and Jackson was relegated to a smaller role before getting another chance where he ended up playing much better.

Over his last 37 games, Jackson went 22-56 from three (39.3 percent) and played a bigger role defensively where advanced metrics are friendly to him.

According to basketball reference, Jackson’s defensive box plus/minus is 1.0.

Box plus/minus is a stat that averages out defensive production across the league per 100 possessions with 0.0 being average. There is an offensive and defensive box plus/minus stat with the same general rules.

Jackson’s defensive chops and improved shooting could give him a larger role in the new Cyclone offense.

Jalen Coleman-Lands

Iowa State will have help from multiple transfers in the backcourt as the new season progresses and one of those guys to help will be DePaul graduate transfer guard Jalen Coleman-Lands.

Coleman-Lands scored 11.1 points per game for DePaul in the 2019-20 season and started every game for the Blue Demons.

He was positive in both his offensive and defensive box plus/minus and if all goes right for him this season, Prohm expects some big offensive production from one of the best three point shooters in the country over the last two seasons.

“I’ve been really impressed with his leadership ability, with intangibles,” Prohm said. “I think he’s a guy, if he can take great shots that he can be a 40 percent three point shooter.”

The graduate transfer will look to make an impact in his only year as an Iowa State Cyclone.

Tyler Harris

Another transfer — this time a junior from Memphis — will join the Cyclones for the 2020-21 season in the form of guard Tyler Harris.

Harris has size working against him with a 5-foot 9-inch 150-pound frame, but the junior makes up for it in shooting ability and defense.

His 36.4 percent from three in 2019-20 makes him a weapon beyond the arc and his defensive box plus/minus is higher than Jackson at 1.2.

Low assist totals could limit his value, but Harris’ value will come as a shooter and a solid defensive piece.

Javan Johnson

Listed as a forward, Troy transfer Javan Johnson will end up playing in the front and backcourt for the Cyclones, giving some versatility.

“Coach Prohm got me running one through four,” Johnson said. “I guess my role really isn’t this or this because I’ll be like all around the floor.”

As a member of the backcourt, Prohm said Johnson will see reps as a point guard and has been practicing in that role since he came to Iowa State after the 2019 season with Troy.

Johnson had to sit out a year, but his solid shooting and better than average playmaking for his size gives him a good chance to make an impact in year one.

Jaden Walker

One of two freshman guards at Iowa State, Jaden Walker fits the mold of lengthy point guards that have succeeded at Iowa State like Haliburton.

Walker will be a different player than Haliburton however, and with a team crowded at the guard spot, Walker could struggle to find playing time in his freshman year.

Prohm has had high praise for the young recruit, but his value remains to be seen.

Darlinstone Dubar

The other guard recruit for Iowa State is Darlinstone Dubar.

Dubar fits a shooting guard offball mold for Iowa State and will look to fill in as a shooter and scorer in year one for Prohm and company.

Iowa State will be filled at the guard spot in the 2020-21 season with carryovers from the previous year, transfers and new recruits as the team looks to find its identity.