Cyclone freshmen bring defensive mindset to experienced squad


Jacob Rice

Freshman Tamin Lipsey at media day on Oct. 12

Iowa State men’s basketball brought one of its most highly anticipated freshman classes of the decade, and the class is already soaking in the hard-working culture that head coach T.J. Otzelberger has put into place.

When talking to the members of this class, the theme remains the same; they are not looking to make a name for themselves.

Rather they want to make some noise as a team.

Demarion Watson, Eli King and Tamin Lipsey were all top-200 recruits according to 247 Sports, but that is not something that is on their minds.

Otzelberger spoke very highly of the freshman class, saying none of them are in it for personal gain.

“They’re great young men, who are great ambassadors for our program,” Otzelberger said. “The pride they have to be Cyclones every day on the court, but off the court as well, is really special.”

The defensive mentality that the Iowa State program has would deter a lot of prospects due to the lack of offensive opportunities; however, this trio feels that the playstyle fits them all well.

“It fits me perfectly,” Lipsey said. “That’s kind of the type of player I am. Scrappy, I’ll hustle, I’ll go 100 percent.”

As Watson stands at six-foot-six, the lengthy guard said that he could have a mutual relationship with this defensive philosophy because he is versatile and is willing to learn how to use his length to his advantage.

“I’m a very defensive-minded guy,” Watson said. “My length, my athleticism, I can really just be a really good defender.”

King feels he still has a ways to go in terms of becoming an elite defender; however, the intense ball pressure plays to his strengths. He had only high praise for last year’s team and said he thinks he can learn a lot from them.

As for an outlook on playing time, Otzelberger said they would each have massive opportunities this season, but none more than Lipsey. Projected starting point guard Jeremiah Williams suffered an Achilles injury that put him out for the entirety of the 2022-23 season.

Lipsey said to take over and become the starting point guard, he must improve at making the right reads and slowing down a college game that is played at a much higher pace than high school.

“It’s a learning process,” Lipsey said.

The three things Watson said he could improve on most this season are his strength, his basketball IQ and his ball handling.

Otzelberger also said King would see some time at the point guard position, and Watson will likely be in the mix at the guard and forward positions due to his defensive mindset.