Cyclones.com dropped a bomb on Friday morning when they announced that point guard Monte Morris will be returning to Iowa State for his fourth and final season in 2016-17.
Morris could have declared for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, which would have allowed him to get evaluated by scouts and still decide to come back, so long as he made his decision by May 25. However, it appears the feedback he got from talent evaluators persuaded him to return for one more year.
Here's a quote from Morris from Cyclones.com...
"Ultimately, it came down to wanting to accomplish a number of things, with earning my degree and continuing my development as a basketball player my top priorities. I want to get stronger and become the best basketball player I can before becoming a professional, and I feel another year at Iowa State can help me do that."
The "get stronger" portion of that quote is especially wise for Morris. He was listed at 175 pounds on the official ISU roster in 2015-16, which as I calculated in this article is a full 15 pounds lighter than the average 1st round draft pick.
Considered by many to be one of the best point guards in college basketball, Morris can substantially increase his draft stock by adding bulk this offseason and putting together a great campaign in his final year in a Cyclone uniform. One only has to look at Buddy Hield's decision to return for his fourth year as an example of what Morris could do in 2017.
With Morris back, Iowa State will almost surely have one of the best backcourts in the nation next season. With the return of Naz Mitrou-Long (redshirt pending), those two plus Matt Thomas will be a formidable trio for any opposing team. Plus, they'll be backed up by some solid depth as well. If Steve Prohm could add a big man who's ready to play immediately, next year's team has the potential to once again make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Check out a message Morris posted to Cyclone fans on his Twitter this morning:
A special message for Cyclone Nation! pic.twitter.com/jsKr1pt6wW— BigGame (@MonteMorris11) April 8, 2016