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2017-2018 Iowa State Basketball Season in Review, Part 3: The Role Players

Let’s take a look at the role players for this past season.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

For part three of our Season in Review series, we’re going to take a look at the bench players and their contributions, role on the team, and performance relative to expectations.

Hans Brase

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hans Brase came to Ames as a grad transfer from Princeton after missing most of the past two seasons with two separate major knee injuries. Coming in with a reputation for being an intelligent big that could potentially stretch the floor a bit, Brase was expected to be at least a key contributor off the bench. Here’s how he did:

That stat line is FAR from what Cyclone fans hoped for expected and expected to get out of the grad transfer from Princeton. Heck, some of the most optimistic of us even thought he may be competing for starter minutes by the time conference play rolled around as a veteran presence on the floor. Instead, Brase could never get fully healthy after coming off two consecutive knee injuries.

In fact, Brase’s contributions this season were so disappointing that, in combination with Merril Holden’s underwhelming contributions in the 2016-2017 season may have potentially scared Steve Prohm and the rest of the coaching staff away from look at grad transfers for the near future. Grad transfers have worked out for Iowa State in the past (see: DeAndre Kane), but the last few haven’t worked out. Back when Fred Hoiberg was scouring the transfer market as a sort free agency, Iowa State didn’t necessarily have to compete with many other schools to get the guys they wanted. After schools saw the success Iowa State had with transfers, competition increased. A perfect example of this new competition is the recruitment of New Mexico grad transfer Elijah Brown. Iowa State was expected to be the favorite to sign Brown, but Oregon eventually stepped in and secured Brown’s commitment. Here’s how Brown’s season at Oregon went:

Think Iowa State could have used that stat line at the point guard spot this season? As transfers become more and more common, schools will have more and more competition for transfers, making them a significantly riskier proposition. I would expect Steve Prohm and staff to continue to keep an eye on the transfer market to spot potentially helpful sit-out transfers (see: Marial Shayok and Michael Jacobsen), but my guess is that due to recent lack of success with grad transfers like Hans Brase and Merril Holden, the coaching staff will pursue grad transfers

Jakolby Long

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After arriving in Ames from Mustang, OK, Long played sparingly in his freshman season behind a wealth of experience in the Cyclone backcourt. Going into his sophomore season, Long’s role on the team was expected to increase, but nobody knew exactly where he would fit among the rest of the youth and inexperience on the roster.

Long never really found a regular piece in the rotation, as his inconsistent jump shot made him a liability on offense for team that was already lacking shooters. His jump shot has a bit of hitch that causes him to release the ball slightly after the peak of his jump shot, causing the inconsistency that hampered his contributions. Defensively, Long was a decently strong body to guard the point or either wing, but he isn’t tall enough to be a truly versatile defender and needs to grow quite a bit in his off-ball defense.

At the end of the season, Long elected to ask for a release from the school, with the intention to transfer. Transferring is the best move for Jakolby and his future, as his playing time would likely decrease even further next season with the entire backcourt returning and a loaded freshman class coming in.

Terrence Lewis

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence Lewis came to Iowa State has a highly touted member of the 2017 recruiting class with Big 12-ready body and a solid outside jump shot. Lewis initially struggled to find his footing early in the season, as he was still transitioning from being a volume shooter in high school to a more efficient scorer in the rough-and-tumble Big 12. “You can be a great shooter and shoot poorly then you’ve got to evaluate your shot selection,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said.

As the season went on, Lewis gradually found his role increasing as he gained confidence in his outside shot. During conference play, he shot just 7 of 31 from three in non-conference play, but improved to shoot 36% from three in conference play. In a three game stretch against TCU, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State, Lewis shot 9-17 from three, signaling a significant jump in confidence and a possible forthcoming as a sharpshooter going forward.

Through this summer and into next season, the development model Lewis, Steve Prohm, and all Cyclone fans should and will look to is that of Naz Mitrou-Long. In his freshman season, Naz played even less than Terrence did in his freshman season (so little that he doesn’t even show up on KenPom as a member of the team, and most believed he was destined to just be a good locker room presence and an occasional contributor off the bench. Instead, Naz hit the gym and focused on improving his three point shot to carve out a role on a team which needed more outside shooters. In his sophomore season, Naz quickly became an enormous part of the offense, hitting 40% of his threes on 160 attempts.

From there, Naz developed into one of the best shooters in school history, as well as becoming a crucial locker room and on-floor presence. By the time his (super) senior season arrived, Naz had become an excellent finisher at the rim and a tenacious on-ball defender, to compliment his fearless shooting. Terrence Lewis should look to follow Naz Mitrou-Long’s career arc as best he can. In various offseason interviews, he mentioned a need to improve his ability to drive to the bucket, as well as improve confidence from beyond the arc. This tells me that he understands and is being pushed by the coaching staff in the same direction Naz followed. If he continues to work and hard and follow that instruction, Cyclone fans should expected Terrence Lewis to devlop into a key piece of the rotation in the very near future. This kid’s future is very bright.