Wigginton and Young likely to return against Eastern Illinois

Junior Solomon Young waves to the crowd as he walks on to the court during Hilton Madness at Hilton Coliseum on October 12, 2018. 

Noah Rohlfing

They’re back (probably). 

As Eastern Illinois comes to Ames on Friday for the Cyclones’ final game before the new year, many of the eyes and ears on hand will not be as focused on the opponent as they will be on the sidelines. 

The reason why? Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young, two key contributors on the 2017-18 roster, are slated to return from injuries against the Panthers.

Wigginton played in the first game of the season against Alabama State, but he strained his foot at the end of the game and has not seen the floor since. Young suited up for the Cyclones’ game against Drake at Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 15, but didn’t play and has been out for two months following groin surgery. 

That doesn’t mean they’ll be back in the starting lineup, though.

Cyclones coach Steve Prohm said the two will be ready to go barring any setbacks, but wasn’t sure how much the duo would play.

“It’s just going to be a process of slowly easing them back into it,” Prohm said.  “I’d love to get them up and down the floor to get them some reps.”

Getting Wigginton back could be a boon for an offense that has at times been lacking shot creation, as Wigginton scored 16.7 points per game last year. His slashing ability, when fully healthy, can also create open shots on the outside for Iowa State’s shooters.

But, that might not be the most important contribution Wigginton can make to the 9-2 Cyclones.

Before the Big Four Classic, senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb mentioned Wigginton’s return may take some of the scoring pressure off of himself and the other Cyclones, allowing for players to play more freely. 

Freshman guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has been starting in place of Wigginton, had similar thoughts on his return. 

“Can’t wait to get him back in uniform,” Haliburton said. “We have times in games where it seems like the ball dies.

“He’ll help us a lot offensively.”

As for Young, the junior forward has had a injury-ridden career with the Cyclones. His surgery in October to repair a groin injury was the second time he had gone under the knife in six months, as his sophomore season was shut down with a meniscus tear in his left knee, for which he had surgery in late February. 

Now, Young is back and feeling “almost 100 percent.” Keep an eye on how he gets worked into the lineup as his stamina grows, as there has been a hesitation by Prohm to mess with the current rotations, given how the team has performed.

Cameron Lard only got three minutes against Drake, as freshman George Conditt IV was the first big man off the bench in the first half. Redshirt junior Michael Jacobson has solidified his role in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, and now the frontcourt minutes will be even harder to come by for everyone involved. 

Young sounded happy to be back in the mix. 

“It’s been a long wait,” Young said of his road back from the surgery. “I’m ready to go.”

With so much going on for the Cyclones, it’s easy to overlook Iowa State’s 6-5 opponent. The Panthers play in the Ohio Valley Conference along with Prohm’s former team in Murray State. 

The Panthers average 72.5 points per game and shoot 38 percent from 3-point range as a team, and the Cyclones will have to keep the Panthers from getting hot in order to gather a convincing win before Big 12 play begins. 

For a nearly-Christmas “vacation game,” Friday’s game in Hilton will have a few storylines to keep in mind.