Capital City League provides excitement for ISU fans


Illustration: Cody Beetler/Iowa State Daily

The 2015 Capital City League kicked into gear Wednesday night in West Des Moines, and there was no shortage of offense.  

Ben Visser

High-scoring games, high-flying dunks and highlight-reel plays filled the YMCA Capital City League games in Des Moines this summer, and many of those plays were performed by current and former members of the ISU men’s basketball team as well as players from Drake and Central Iowa.

The six teams were formed by a serpentine-style draft, meaning the team with the first pick in the first round had the last pick in the second round, and the team with the last pick in the first round had the first pick in the second round.

Hannah Homes won the Capital City League. The team was led by ISU’s 6-foot-4-inch forward Deonte Burton, who averaged 39.6 points on 47 percent shooting from the field, 11.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.9 steals and two blocks in nine games.

If it wasn’t for a buzzer-beating layup by ISU’s Hallice Cooke in the semifinals, however, Hannah Homes might never have reached the championship.

Cooke averaged 20.8 points on 48 percent shooting from 3-point range, 7.1 rebounds, six assists and one steal in seven games for Hannah Homes.

Fourth-seeded Hannah Homes beat fifth-seeded Capital Orthopedics, first-seeded ADIO Chiropractics and second-seeded Phoenix Renewable Resources in the tournament on its way to the Capital City League championship.

Former ISU guard Kourtlin Jackson won the MVP of the league for Phoenix Renewable Resources. While point guard Monté Morris was trying out for the Pan American Games, Jackson stepped up for Phoenix Renewable Resources and led the team to a two seed, averaging more than 40 points.

The Capital City League wasn’t just about winning and accolades; it also provided players such as Cooke a chance to knock off some rust and get on the court again.

Cooke, a redshirt sophomore for the Cyclones, is coming off two hip surgeries. The first occurred Oct. 28, 2014, and the second occurred Nov. 22, 2014. He was cleared to play in April, but didn’t get going until May.

“I’m not moving as fluid as I want yet, but it’ll come,” Cooke said.

Cooke averaged 8.2 points on 45 percent shooting from 3-point range, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 32 games as a freshman at Oregon State and he was excited to showcase what he could do in front of ISU fans.

“It feels great, seven months not playing and see the turnout with all the fans here and stuff, it’s just exciting,” Cooke said. “To be out here playing fast and having fun is pretty much what this is about and just getting my confidence back and not getting down if I miss too many shots because the best shooters in the world miss shots.

“So I’m not really worried about whether my shot is falling because I know by the time November comes it’ll be ready.”

Burton, who is eligible Dec. 19 because of NCAA transfer rules, echoed Cooke’s thoughts.

“This is fun right now,” Burton said. “Here they aren’t playing to a scouting report to stop one player. It’s just fun.”

Teams regularly break the 100-point mark, only falling short a total of 13 times in 30 games.

Players also went for the highlight-reel play whenever possible, whether that’s a slam dunk or blocking a shot.

The ISU season begins with an exhibition game against Grand Valley State on Nov. 6. The season officially kicks off against former Big 12 foe Colorado in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 13.