A breakdown of Iowa State’s 2017-18 roster and outlook

Junior Donovan Jackson takes a three point shot during a game against the Nevada Wolf Pack, March 16 in Milwaukee Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones won 84-73, and will play Purdue this Saturday in the second round of the tournament.

Luke Manderfeld

The Cyclones are entering a new era of basketball. 

Naz Mitrou-Long, Monté Morris, Matt Thomas, and, for the last two seasons, Deonte Burton are gone, leaving behind a legacy of three Big 12 Tournament titles in four seasons and two Sweet 16 appearances. 

Now it’s time for some new players to step up. Next season’s team will certainly have a Steve Prohm flavor. Almost the entire roster will be made up of Prohm’s signees.  

Here’s a look at some of the key players and what they can contribute for the 2017-18 season:

Donovan Jackson

Jackson, who spent the 2016-17 season coming off the bench, will become the face of the basketball program. 

Entering his senior season, Jackson will take the reins as the floor general from Morris, who left Iowa State as the all-time assists and steals leader.

Jackson was known as a shooter coming to Iowa State via Iowa Western Community College, and he fit that bill this season. 

Jackson averaged 6.4 points and 1.2 assists in his 16.8 minutes per game. His 45.4 percent shooting from 3-point range was the best on the team among players who saw consistent court time, just ahead of Matt Thomas. In Iowa State’s last win of the season, against Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Jackson went 4-for-4 with 12 points. 

His celebrations after big shots came to define him during the team’s run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament this season. 

“He’s got a great deal of confidence,” Prohm said. “He has a swagger to him. He’s made big shots for us. I can name three or four big shots, game-changing shots that he’s made for us this year.”

Jackson will be surrounded by youth on the floor, so it will be imperative that he takes care of the ball and stays cool under pressure. He’s learned those traits from one of the best in the business, Morris — Jackson’s roommate. 

“My mindset is totally different,” Jackson said. “Monté Morris — he taught me everything. I’m going to use what he gave me and all of the other seniors and I’m going to be ready for next year. Trust me.” 

Solomon Young and Cameron Lard

Iowa State’s front court saw a large transformation during the 2016-17 season. 

Graduate transfers Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie weren’t getting the job done, so in mid-February, Prohm made a change. He inserted his freshman big man Solomon Young into the starting lineup. The Cyclones followed it up with an 11-2 stretch and a Big 12 Tournament title. 

Young’s stats don’t pop off the page — 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game — but his defense was crucial against some of the Big 12’s best forwards. 

“The person to really have that big of an impact on this team as a freshman,” Mitrou-Long said during the Big 12 Tournament, “it’s Monté [Morris] and Matt Thomas had his ups and downs. And then it was Georges [Niang]. So you can look at Matt, Monté and Matt and put Solomon in that category. Those are Iowa State greats. So I think that answers it right there.”

Lard entered during the middle of the season after academic issues during high school. The four-star recruit could be a big help off the bench or another big presence alongside Young after sitting out this season. 

Nick Weiler-Babb

At the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Prohm said Nick Weiler-Babb could morph into the most NBA-ready player on Iowa State’s roster. 

“He may have the best NBA potential when you’re just looking at straight NBA potential on our roster,” Prohm said during the team’s preseason media day. 

He showed glimpses of that potential this season, but it was few and far between, playing in 16.5 minutes per game. He averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in those minutes off the bench, and he was able to contribute plenty to the defensive end. 

Weiler-Babb, who transferred in from Arkansas and sat out the 2015-16 season, doesn’t set the net on fire with his shooting, but his bread and butter comes from driving to the basket. He found some success during a three-game stretch in late January, averaging 7.0 points per game against Kansas State, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. 

But the consistency — which can be attributed to his limited minutes off the bench — was an issue. He’s projected to be in the starting lineup next season, so look for him to find his game as the season drags on. 

Lindell Wigginton and other recruits 

Prohm hauled in one of the most prolific recruiting classes in recent memory for the 2017-18 season. Headlining the 2017 class is Lindell Wigginton, a top-100 guard and a four-star recruit, according to multiple recruiting services. 

It remains to be seen how Prohm will use Wigginton in his first season — as a boost off the bench or throw him right into the starting lineup — but Wigginton has the skills to be a contributor right away. Playing at prestigious Oak Hill Academy, Wigginton has starred and was recently selected to the Nike All-World prospect team. 

“To get Lindell into our program going forward is huge,” Prohm said during signing day. “He’s a guy that can come on campus day one and [be] ready to compete physically, mentally, just from the competition that he’s used to going against at Oak Hill over the past three years.”

Wigginton is joined by wing Terrance Lewis and Darius McNeill. Both may need some work out of the gate, but both can potentially contribute right away. 

Other additions? 

The big question going into the offseason is what Prohm will do with his remaining scholarships. After Iowa State announced forward Simeon Carter will transfer, Prohm now has four scholarships to work with. 

Prohm may want to add a post presence to sure up his competition in the paint, and he’ll likely want to add some more shooters after the team lost Mitrou-Long and Thomas. 

Either way, next year’s team will look a lot different than Iowa State teams of year’s past. It remains to be seen if it will translate to success.