Notebook: Iowa State coaches talk recruiting and mesh as offseason continues

Iowa State men’s basketball Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger talked about the recruiting trail, his new coaching staff and more in a press conference Thursday.

Zane Douglas

New Iowa State men’s basketball Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger, new Assistant Coaches JR Blount and Kyle Green and returning Assistant Coach Daniyal Robinson talked about recruiting, fit with the system and the transfer portal with the media Thursday.

Meshing together

Hiring a new head coach often comes with a new coaching staff as well, which was partially true in Otzelberger’s case as Blount and Green are his new assistant coaches, but he and Iowa State also decided to retain Robinson — a players coach who helped recruit many of the players on the team.

Otzelberger said the four coaches have differing styles in development and recruiting, but all the styles mesh well and give the Cyclones a broad range of ideas in both areas.

“It was important to me to find guys that complement each other well, that work together as a group, that have synergy,” Otzelberger said. “Certainly, recruiting is part of that, coaching expertise is part of that.”

Blount and Green echoed the same sentiments, talking about how they both had previous relationships with Otzelberger and each other.

Green came over from Northern Iowa where he has been an assistant, while Blount came over from a similar situation with Colorado State.

All have made their marks in the Midwest, which is something they all talked about when discussing the recruiting trail.

Green said the three along with Robinson mesh together well as coaches.

“We’ve all known each other for a while,” Green said. “So I’ve known T.J. for over 15 years, I’ve know [Robinson] for a long time, I’m actually so old that I recruited JR a little bit when he was in high school.”

Transfer portal

Iowa State has already lost a number of players to the transfer portal. Due to new rules with the transfer portal, there are more players transferring than ever before.

The Cyclones have lost Tyler Harris, Nate Jenkins, Darlinstone Dubar and Dudley Blackwell already to the transfer portal. To replace them, Iowa State has picked up transfer Aljaž Kunc from Washington State.

Otzelberger had good things to say about Kunc, especially about the forward’s defense.

“He’s a guy that plays really hard,” Otzelberger said. “To start on the defensive side, he’s really good laterally. I think he can guard multiple positions. He plays with a motor, which we value. His hands are always active defensively, which generates deflections, turnovers, things along those lines, and he’s had some bigger rebounding games, especially late in the year.”

For the rest of the offseason, Iowa State will have to make up for the losses of four transfers and a couple graduates. One recruit and one transfer will likely not be the only players the Cyclones use to fill in those vacated roles.

A possible name to pick up that didn’t pan out was Green’s son A.J. Green, who sat out most of last season for Northern Iowa.

The four-star recruit is not leaving the Panthers, looking to return from injury and finish his career there.

Later Thursday, the Cyclones got their second transfer, helping to start fill those holes in Denver transfer Robert Jones.

Jones announced his decision to transfer Thursday after the press conference.

Minnesota roots

Something that was lacking a bit for the Cyclones in the six years with Steve Prohm was a strong recruiting presence in the entire Midwest.

Part of that Midwest recruiting is Minnesota — a state that has produced a flurry of top-end talent in the last decade.

Five-star recruits Tyus Jones, Gary Trent Jr., Matthew Hurt, Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgren all have come through Minnesota in the last decade, and while all have gone to high-end programs, Iowa State hasn’t been very active on the scene in Minnesota.

The coaching staff now has ties to Minnesota, and that has come back to being a main focus going forward in recruiting.

“Minnesota right now, there’s a ton of talent in the state and throughout the state,” Otzelberger said. “… We’re gonna be aggressive in Minnesota.”