On the eve of the 2019-20 Iowa State men’s basketball season, Steve Prohm announced that two freshman basketball players would be leaving the program.
Small forward Marcedus Leech, who hails from Poplar Bluff, MO, came into the program as a highly touted three star recruit. During his time in high school, Leech was offered by the likes of LSU, Kansas, Missouri, and Miami, among others.
Most of those offers, however, came before Leech suffered a catastrophic knee injury during his junior year of high school. While Leech did play his senior year and was present throughout the Capital City League this summer, most agreed that he was still working his way back to full form.
Forward Luke Anderson, a 6’8” 215 pound native of Lakeland, Florida, also announced that he would be entering his name into the transfer portal. Anderson was also a 3 star recruit, and had offers from Minnesota, Kansas State, Georgia, Xavier, and Florida State (among others ) out of high school.
The loss of these two players leaves the Cyclones with two open scholarships moving forward, opening up doors previously closed on the recruiting trail.
Steve Prohm was quoted as saying ““It gives us great flexibility in recruiting. We can’t talk fall recruiting before signings, but we’re recruiting. I think we went in with the mindset this year knowing we could have to sign a couple guys because of potential things that could happen in the spring..”
The Cyclones are firmly in the mix for several prospects in the 2020 class, including 4-star foward and Iowa native Xavier Foster as well as guard Darlinstone Dunbar. Steve Prohm also hinted that his staff remains open to using one of the scholarships to take a mid-year transfer, should an opportunity to better the roster via the transfer route open up.
The remainder of ISU’s 2019 class, which was ranked 56th in the country, includes guards Caleb Grill and Tre Jackson, and the 2020 class currently contains wing Dudley Blackwell and point guard Jaden Walker.
The impact of Anderson and Leech leaving the program will likely not be felt on the court this season; Grill and Jackson are expected to be rotational players, and Anderson and Leech were not even in the conversation. Developmentally, both players did feel like long-term projects, especially when compared to Grill and Jackson.
Despite the timing of this announcement (one day before the season opener) being undoubtedly odd, it is probably best to not read too much into the situation. Both Anderson and Leech clearly determined their odds of getting early playing time to be greater elsewhere, and likely wanted to transfer before earning garbage time-type minutes in the early portion of the non-conference season, impacting their eligibility schedule.