Hason Ward transferred from VCU with two years of eligibility remaining when he came to Ames. While in the A-10, he finished top 5 in block % in the league and had a consistent role for the team. In his year in Ames, he averaged 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in just 8 minutes of action.
Season at a Glance
Ward will be entering his 5th year of college, and this year might have the most question marks around it. We saw his minutes decrease when Tre King became eligible in late December. Since King joined the rotation, Ward only saw three games where he played double-digit minutes.
Listed at 6’9 and 225 pounds, his frame fits the Coach Otzelberger system of a lengthy swarming defense. However in games, Ward’s feet were slow, and he had trouble when he was switched onto guards.
Now the positive about Ward is what he contributes at the dunker position. The dunker position is quite simple, just a four or five-man understanding where the defense will help from and having the ability to become free for a lob or bounce pass near the basket for a dunk.
While just attempting 46 FGs this season, he shot 67.4% from the field. Now take that with a grain of salt because most of his attempts were dunks. One stat to take note of is his 10 blocks on the season. In just 183 total minutes played, he still finished fourth on the team in that category.
Ward finished with 24 offensive rebounds and 27 defensive rebounds, along with 14 total steals. Ward’s energy is there, and on film, the defensive talent from the A-10 is in there somewhere. Maybe a season in the mighty Big 12 and another offseason will have the forward ready to roll this fall.
2023-2024 Season Outlook
So what does Ward think his role is going to be? I doubt he is fine with playing a small number of minutes for another year. Ward will have a full offseason to work and prove himself to the coaches. There are some options for him to add; a mid-range jumper, a couple of post moves, or an improvement on the defensive end. It seems unreasonable to ask for all three (though that would solve some problems) so if Ward can bring one of these to the table, his will minutes will improve.
Otz is bringing in some talented big men who play the same position as Ward, and they are much more talented than him. There’s no hiding that. One favor Ward does have is that Iowa State decided not to go after a big man in the portal. That leaves the five positions up to Robert Jones, Tre King, Omaha Biliew, and Hason Ward. Out of those names, Ward is the second-best lob catcher. The ability to add some showtime to Hilton is intriguing.
This offseason is very important to many of the Cyclones who are returning, and that includes Ward. The typical saying “know your role” will go a long way within this team.