Notebook: The point guard position gets some clarity

Redshirt junior Javan Johnson plays defense against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 29.

Zane Douglas

In the first game of the season for the Cyclones, they did the job against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, winning 80-63.

Iowa State was losing at halftime and the slow start made it closer than it could’ve been, but it didn’t end all that close and it gave Iowa State a clearer picture for the future.

Point guard questions are answered (for now)

Coming into the season, one of the biggest questions about Head Coach Steve Prohm’s team was what would be the plan at the point guard position.

In the 2019-20 season, then-sophomore guard Rasir Bolton took over the reins after Tyrese Haliburton’s injury, but Bolton’s style of play fit more as an off-ball scorer at the guard position as his strengths lied in attacking the rim and, especially late in the season, shooting.

Bolton was given a chance to be that guy against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday and the junior did not disappoint.

Bolton was more efficient, going 7-11 and 2-5 from deep and he missed a dunk that would bring him to 8-11 as well. But where Bolton took a big step forward was his playmaking ability.

It wasn’t a huge strength for him in the 2019-20 season, but seven assists in his first game of the season and only two turnovers is a solid start, even if it was against a low-level opponent.

“That’s gonna be his position this year,” Prohm said. “He’s gotta take it, he’s gotta own it, he’s gotta take the responsibility that comes with that position on both ends of the floor.”

Prohm also got a chance to see transfer Javan Johnson spend some time at the point forward/guard combination. 

Johnson had a solid game from a playmaking perspective, totaling five assists and only one turnover.

Johnson adjusting to a new rhythm

Coming from two seasons spent at Troy, Johnson had to sit out the 2019-20 season getting ready to spend his first time as a Cyclone on Sunday.

Along with his five assists, Johnson had eight points, but it was on an inefficient 3-10 shooting and 2-7 from three.

“We’d like to get Javan a little more time there and reps, so we do have a number two guy that we know we can go to,” Prohm said.

Johnson’s time away could make adjusting back into college basketball not entirely a smooth one and Prohm knows that, but he’ll also have to do this while playing two different positions.

Johnson is one of the only point guards the Cyclones have, but due to his size and the fact that he is in the starting lineup with Bolton, Johnson will also spend time playing a small-ball four role.

The redshirt junior showed he can play both positions, but his transition will be monitored as keeps a big role with the team.

“It felt really good just to get back out there with the guys and playing some real action against somebody other than my teammates,” Johnson said.

Jackson’s absence alters lineup

The Cyclones came into Sunday’s game missing one of their more important pieces from the previous season.

Suffering from a sprained knee, sophomore guard Tre Jackson was sidelined prior to the first game of the year and will likely be out for the next two weeks of action.

Iowa State found other guards to fill Jackson’s role, including freshman guard Darlinstone Dubar.

Dubar saw 22 minutes and made the most of them, going 3-7 with seven points and grabbing eight rebounds, six of which were offensive.

Jalen Coleman-Lands, Tyler Harris and Bolton started as guards for Iowa State and all of them had solid games that included at least 28 minutes of playing time.

The three also led the team in scoring and combined to go 9-22 on threes with the rest of the team going just 3-10.