Basketball notebook: Niang returns home, Thomas shines in summer league

Matt Thomas puts up a shot against Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Iowa State fell to the Boilermakers 80-76, ending its season.

Aaron Marner

Niang waived by Pacers; returned to Ames

Former Iowa State All-American forward Georges Niang has had a busy week.

The 2016 second round NBA Draft pick (No. 50 overall by the Indiana Pacers) finished his rookie season by spending a lot of time in the NBA Development League. After he sprained his left knee in a summer league game, Niang hardly played this summer and the Pacers decided to cut ties.

“Emotionally, it’s been tough,” Niang said. “But I’m in a place where people support me so much. The support that I’ve gotten is awesome.”

According to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers are still responsible for $100,000 of Niang’s salary.

Niang will certainly have a chance to impress other NBA teams this offseason in the hopes of signing with another team.

Not all has been bad for Niang this summer, however. Niang hosted a golf outing Monday alongside Habitat for Humanity in order to raise money for local families. He also hosted a youth basketball camp this week in Ames.

“This community did so much for me,” Niang said. “I really just wanted to get back here and show them how much I appreciate them… just because this place means so much to me and I love coming back.”

Women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly was one of the golf charity’s celebrities. Fennelly said he was in a group with an Iowa Hawkeyes fan.

“Nah, I didn’t [plan that],” Niang joked. “I was hoping coach Bill could convert them, and I think he might have.”

Matt Thomas shines with Lakers in Summer League

Matt Thomas’ best basketball may be ahead of him.

Thomas, a recent Iowa State graduate and two-time selection for All-Big 12 honorable mention, earned some minutes with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Summer League and did not disappoint.

Thomas worked his way from the bench into the starting lineup over the course of the past two weeks. He ended up scoring 23 points in the Summer League championship game including a 5-for-5 performance on 3-pointers and 8-for-9 shooting overall.

In the semifinals Sunday night, Thomas shot 7-for-10 from the floor and 6-for-7 on 3-point attempts en route to a 20-point performance.

He chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds (6-for-9 shooting, 3-for-4 on 3-pointers) in the quarterfinals.

Thomas was the second-leading scorer for the Lakers in each of the final two games.

Thomas’ strong Summer League debut will give him a great chance at being invited to an NBA training camp before the season starts.

Hilton Magic Legends fall in second round

Iowa State’s alumni team copied last year’s Iowa State team when it lost in the second round in the tournament to a 4-seed.

While the real Cyclones fell to 4-seeded Purdue, the Hilton Magic Legends lost their second round game in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) to a Kansas State alumni team.

The Hilton Magic Legends faced some setbacks in TBT. Three former Cyclones— Korie Lucious, Kourtlin Jackson and Dustin Hogue — were unable to play for various reasons. Hogue and Lucious had injuries, while Jackson’s season in Australia went longer than expected, delaying his return to the United States.

Thanks to 18 points and 10 rebounds from Darrell Bowie, along with 20 points and five rebounds from Diante Garrett, Iowa State stayed in the game. The Purple and Black squad from Kansas State pulled away for a 90-79 victory, however.