Men’s basketball roster breakdown: Frontcourt

Texas forward Jericho Sims attempts to block George Conditt’s shot attempt Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum. (Photo courtesy of Luke Lu/Iowa State Athletics)

James Powell

Going 2-22 over the course of a season usually calls for some changes.

That was certainly the case for Iowa State men’s basketball, who overhauled its roster with transfers and hired T.J. Otzelberger to usher in a new era of Cyclone basketball starting in 2021.

With those transfers, the roster looks a lot different for the upcoming season, particularly in the frontcourt. The forward position features one long-time Cyclone, and three new faces in the program.

George Conditt IV (Senior)

6-foot-9, 234 pounds

Conditt is one of the few recognizable faces as you work down the 2022 roster, and he figures to play an important role on and off the court as a veteran leader at Iowa State.

The Chicago, Ill., native hopes to recapture some of the magic he made off in the 2019-20 season, providing a stable force in the post.

He averaged 7.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in the 32 games he played in, starting seven of them. He also provided a spark off the bench for Iowa State in its run to the Big 12 tournament his freshman year, in 2019.

After a dip in production last season, Conditt went to play for the Puerto Rican National Team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia. There, he averaged 14.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 76.5 percent in the two games played.

Otzelberger thinks what he did for Puerto Rico can translate to Ames in more ways than one.

“That experience [playing for Puerto Rico] seemed to light a fire in him,” Otzelberger said at media day. “When he came back from that experience in late June he was a tremendous energy guy and brought a lot to our summer workouts.”

Conditt figures to contend to hold down the starting center position, and he’ll be an integral part of the Cyclones’ defensive efforts down low.

Aljaž Kunc (Senior)

6-foot-8, 215 pounds

Transferring to Ames from Washington State, Kunc now finds himself potentially starting at times, depending on how his head coach wants to attack a particular game.

Otzelberger mentioned having Kunc as a primary forward in smaller, more skill-based lineups as opposed to size.

He made seven starts for the Cougars last season, and averaged 8.9 points and 7.5 rebounds once fully healthy after recovering from an ankle injury. He also shot a team-best 87.7 percent from the free throw line.

That free-throw percentage is higher than anyone not named Solomon Young at Iowa State last season with at least 30 attempts, as Iowa State shot just 78.3 percent from the line.

Kunc played in 83 games over his three years at Washington State, so he brings loads of game experience with him.

Whether or not Kunc sees his name in the starting five, he still has intangibles and experience that should fit in well this season for the Cyclones.  

Robert Jones (Junior)

6-foot-9, 245 pounds

Jones is as big as Conditt in height and bigger than him in weight, making him a potential force in the post for the Cyclones this season.

The Prior Lake, Minn., native came from the University of Denver, where he played two seasons for the Pioneers.

Before coming over to Ames, he averaged 9.1 points and five rebounds a game in the 15 games he played in last season. He also shot 53.8 percent from the field.

What excites his head coach, however, is not those or any other stats. It’s the intangible things he potentially brings to a team that Otzelberger says plans to have lots of aggressiveness on the ball.

“He brings toughness and physicality to our front line,” Otzelberger said. “He’s a dirty work, lunch pail type of guy.”

His coach also mentioned that Jones has a “nasty streak” to him, something any team would want to have in the paint.

Tristan Enaruna (Junior)

6-foot-8, 220 pounds

The final player that figures to contribute to the forward position is a transfer from Kansas in Tristan Enaruna.

Enaruna saw time in 55 games his first two years with the Jayhawks, averaging around 2 PPG in those two seasons.

He’s the only one on the Cyclone roster to be listed as both a guard and a forward, which could potentially speak to his positional flexibility and how his head coach plans to use him.

Enaruna will likely come off the bench for Iowa State, but Otzelberger mentioned him as, like Kunc, a guy who could play in smaller lineups for Iowa State this season.