Iowa State basketball looks to young Cameron Lard for experience, leadership

Cameron Lard prepares to dunk during the Capitol City League dunk contest on July 20. Former Cyclone Monte Morris was a guest judge for the contest.

Brian Mozey

Even though Hilton Madness didn’t actually have a dunk contest for the evening, Cameron Lard didn’t disappoint on bringing the show.

Lard was grabbing alley-oop passes and dunking the ball with his head a few inches above the rim. He also had a handful of fast breaks that brought Iowa State basketball fans to the edge of their seats waiting to see how Lard would outdo himself.

Dunk after dunk, Cyclones fans realized the potential in the redshirt freshman forward.

“It was fun to watch on Friday,” said senior guard Donovan Jackson. “He can put on a show and definitely can make Hilton go crazy during the season.”

Lard committed to Iowa State in April of 2016 and was expected to be in Ames during the summer and fall of 2016. That didn’t go according to plan.

The NCAA said Lard wasn’t academically qualified to play at Iowa State and needed to finish his high school work to become a Cyclone. It took some time, but Lard went to Pro-Vision Academy in Houston to finish the work needed to become qualified.

During Iowa State’s winter break, the NCAA gave their approval for Lard to come to Iowa State and officially be a part of the team. It was a feeling like no other for Lard.

“I was really excited to get over to Iowa State and start my college career on the right foot,” Lard said.

Once he started classes on Jan. 9, 2017, the next question was how much playing time was he going to get on the basketball court?

If Lard was at Iowa State in the fall, his playing time might’ve been higher because he was there for fall practice and non-conference. Instead he came in the spring semester when Iowa State was starting conference play.

“It was hard to get Cameron [Lard] ready because conference season is a different type of mind-set than any other part of the season,” said redshirt junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb. “Our foot is on the gas and there’s no way to take it off until after the NCAA Tournament.”

Lard looked at this in a positive light, which made it a better visualization for him. Instead of playing right away, Lard knew this could be an opportunity to get adjusted to college, his academics and how college basketball is played day in and day out.

He learned so much from the four previous seniors (Matt Thomas, Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte Morris and Deonte Burton) that helped him prepare for a difficult, but needed summer.

This previous summer, Lard stayed at Iowa State and worked each and every day to become a better basketball player.

He worked on both sides of his game. Offensively, he’s worked on his jump shot and being a more physical player in the paint. Defensively, he’s worked on staying in front of the opponent and not giving up easy baskets by the hoop.

“Just a whole lot of work,” Lard said. “Since day one, since I got here in January, it’s just been working out every day and getting better.”

Now, all eyes are on him to be an integral part of Iowa State’s team this season. Even though he’s a redshirt freshman, he’s probably one of the more experienced players on the team.

He was here last season.

Of course, Solomon Young, Jackson and Weiler-Babb are the main three that had substantial playing time last season. Otherwise, Lard and Jakolby Long are the only other players that were on the team.

Lard was on the team last season when Iowa State won a Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as seeing the environment during the NCAA Tournament. He’s going to be looked at as a leader this season.

“Cameron [Lard] has all the traits to become a leader for this team,” said assistant coach Daniyal Robinson. “Now, he just needs to take those steps to become that great leader for the future.”

This season, he’s been improving not only on the court, but also off the court and in the classroom. Academically, Lard has been steadily improving his grades and it’s due to a new mindset.

Lard said if he keeps himself accountable with tests and homework assignments, he can be successful in the classroom. He’s been trying to incorporate this philosophy this fall semester and so far, it’s been working out well for him.

Now, he’s just excited to be at practice instead of sitting on the sidelines like last spring semester. The season can’t come fast enough for Lard and the expectation is pretty clear in his eyes.

“Just got to tune in and see,” Lard said. “I’m just ready to start playing.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to make Cyclone Nation happy.”