I'm writing this about one to two weeks earlier than I expected/wanted to. I was planning on giving every position group at least an "A" with various amounts of "+'s" after the "A" but here we are, done in the first round so I'm going to grade fairly. Before the season I wrote a FanPost giving each position group a Preseason grade so first let's review those grades.
PG - A
SG - A+
SF - A
PF - A-
C - B+
Now to the Postseason grades.
PG - A
If this was just Monte Morris It'd be the easiest A+ anyone has ever given. Unfortunately Monte is in fact human and does need breaks. As a freshman Morris shattered the NCAA assist to turnover ratio record by logging 4.78 assists for each turnover. This season Morris was poised to break that record by recording ZERO turnovers in the Big 12 Tournament. However he had four assists to three turnovers against UAB giving him a season A/TO Ratio of 4.63, falling just short of the record he set. Let's say, theoretically, he had only one turnover against UAB, that gives him a 4.88 A/TO Ratio, breaking his previous record.
Before the season I think most of us expected Clayton Custer to spell Morris when he needed a breather, however a preseason bout with mono threw a pretty big wrench in that expectation. Naz Long and Georges Niang were the players to fill in at Point when Morris needed a break and while they were serviceable, there was an obvious drop in offensive execution with those two running the offense.
SG - B
INCONSISTENCY! Inconsistency is the name of the game here. Naz Long, Matt Thomas, and Bryce Dejean-Jones all had bright stretches this season, they also had stretches where they all but disappeared. Long led the group in 3-Point Shooting with 39% Thomas was at 33% and BDJ finished the season with 33% as well. Let's break down the numbers a little bit though.
Through the first 16 games Long shot a blistering 43% from long range. The last 18 games, however, Long shot 34% attempting 18 less threes as well. Long's assist numbers also dropped from 2.06 APG to 1.83 APG over that time, which could be attributed to a drop in minutes as well (26.68 MPG to 24.77 MPG).
Now it's time to polarize, starting with Matt Thomas. Through the first four games Thomas looked like he was a different player this year. Thomas played with tons more confidence, he shot 47% from long range through the first four games. Then something happened. The next 17 games Thomas shot an abysmal 13%. Then something else happened. Through the next 11 games he shot a phenomenal 46% from distance. I think most of that can be attributed to confidence. When Thomas plays with confidence he's lights out, he pulls the trigger without hesitation and more often than not the ball finds its way through that orange ring that's 10 feet in the air. However when he plays scared everything goes down the toilet and it's sometimes painful to watch.
Now maybe the most polarizing player in the Hoiberg era, Bryce Dejean-Jones. I'm not gonna break down BDJ by stretches throughout the season because his season DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!! Well maybe there are two different stretches for BDJ. The "Consistent" part of the season and the "Let's find out if he feels like doing things" part of the season. The first eight games he looked like the "Big 12 Newcomer of the Year" we all expected him to be. He had 17.25 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.5 SPG with two double-doubles and two near triple-doubles. After the first 8 games no one was sure if BDJ would show up and get 15 points and 7 rebounds or if he would just kind of meander about the court and get 3 points and 1 rebound. Here's a game log if you aren't sure what I'm talking about with BDJ's inconsistency.
SF/PF - A-
I combined small forward and power forward because they were basically interchangeable this season. Georges Niang was a stud, no two ways about it. He was a Wooden Award Finalist who averaged 15.3 PPG 5.4 RPG and 3.4 APG. He led the team in points, second in rebounding, and second in assists. He did a little bit of everything for Iowa State.
Abdel Nader was a solid player for Iowa State much of the season. He obviously didn't shoot the three as well as we all hoped/expected but he did other things very well. When he attacked the rim he was almost unstoppable. He rebounded and boxed out well and handled the ball well when we needed him to. He was one of Iowa State's most consistent free throw shooters, shooting 77%. Hopefully he can expand his game and role for the Cyclones next season.
Dustin Hogue was the epitome of a "glue guy". He brought a lot of energy to the court and never took a play off. No plays were ever run for Hogue yet he some how managed to score ~10 PPG for the season (that number dipped to under 10 in the last few games of the season). He hit the three when they were given to him shooting 43% from 3. His rebounding numbers dipped from the previous season. Much of this was attributed to the fact he was forced to play the 4 spot instead of his more natural 3 at the beginning of the season. When McKay became eligible however Hogue's rebounding numbers didn't spike back up. Hogue stayed at ~5 RPG throughout the season. Hogue will be missed by all of Cyclone Nation so I'll leave you with the best rebound in the Hoiberg era.
C - A
Jameel McKay was hyped as being Fred Hoiberg's first true rim protector and not all that much of a scorer. He shattered expectations (at least my expectations). Jameel McKay might not be the tallest guy, he's definitely not the girthiest guy, but he is one of the most athletic guys I've ever seen in person. McKay's vertical is probably somewhere north of 60" and if he were to run the 40 he would most likely be the first person to ever post a sub 3 second time. He finished unbelievable alley-oops, blocked shots, and had the most dynamic hair, game in and game out. He scored when he needed to and always defended the rim making opposing players think twice about going inside. I can't tell you how happy I am that we get him for one more year. Please enjoy this GIF for the next 8 seconds of your life.
Bench - B
Obviously these guys didn't see much time but I'm going to wildly speculate on their futures based on a small sample size anyway.
Georgios Tsalmpouris showed a lot of promise. He stepped out hit a few threes and channeled his inner Kareem Adbul-Jabbar and executed a flawless sky-hook. He needs to put on 30 lbs in the off season and continue to progress and hopefully we should see more of Tsal next season.
Clayton Custer also showed promise running the offense when he saw time. He stepped out and hit some threes and made decent basketball plays. He should be a serviceable back up next season.
Kourtlin Jackson jumps high. KJ is 6'4" and recorded 5 points, four of those points came from dunks and the other was a made free throw. He's also an adequate towel waver which should be his role next year as well. Daniel Stensland waves towels as well. He has a long way to go to get to the level of Tyler Ellerman but over the next few years hopefully his towel waving can get to Tyler's level.
Coach - A+
Fred Hoiberg is really good at everything he does. He's the first coach to get Iowa State to four straight NCAA tournaments and he was the fastest coach to 100 wins. He's obviously not immune to criticism and sometimes he might deserve it but what he's done with the Iowa State basketball program is nothing short of amazing.
He also did this:
Daniel Edozie - A++++++++++++++++ (multiplied by infinity)
I can't express the respect I have for Daniel Edozie. Where he came from and where his is now is nothing short of unbelievable. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about please read this, you will not regret it. He didn't contribute much this season, but he held down the fort while we waited for McKay to become eligible and I've never heard a negative comment from him or about him. He started an NCAA tournament game last year and I think I speak for all of Cyclone Nation when I say, Thank you for everything, Daniel Edozie, you are mature beyond your years and I wish you a long, healthy, and prosperous life. Good luck Daniel Edozie, the Nigerian Nightmare.