After one of the biggest turnaround in college basketball history last season, the Iowa State Cyclones bring back a balanced combo of returning players and high-level transfers.
CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 44 are the Iowa State Cyclones.
After a two-win season in 2020-2021, the future looked bleak for the Iowa State Cyclones. However, a new coach, a few quality transfer acquisitions, and the talented freshman Tyrese Hunter not only helped them improve but led this Cyclones team to 22 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance.
Now, they lose Isaiah Brockington and Tyrese Hunter, their top two guys from last year, but the addition of two St. Bonaventure stars and the return of three of their top five scorers make the Iowa State Cyclones a continued threat.
To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Head Coach: T.J Otzelberger (7th season overall, 2nd season at Iowa State)
2021-2022 Record: 22-13 (7-11)
2022 Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Exit
Notable Departures: George Conditt IV (Graduated), Izaiah Brockington (Graduated), Tristan Enaruna (Transfer/Cleveland State), Tyrese Hunter (Transfer/Texas)
PG: Jaren Holmes (6-4, 215, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 13.5 points, 5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals (St. Bonaventure)
SG: Jeremiah Williams (6-5, 185, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 41.7 FG% (Temple)
SF: Gabe Kalscheur (6-4, 200, Gr.-Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals
PF: Aljaz Kunc (6-8, 212, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists
C: Osun Osunniyi (6-10, 220, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.9 blocks, 61.3 FG% (St. Bonaventure)
6: Caleb Grill (6-3, 195, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 6.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 34.8 3P%
7: Robert Jones (6-10, 225, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds
8: Hason Ward (6-9, 200, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 6.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 55.3 FG% (VCU)
9: Demarion Watson (6-6, 175, Fr.)
247Sports Composite #146 overall rated recruit
10: Eli King (6-3, 185, Fr.)
247Sports Composite #147 overall rated recruit
11: Tamin Lipsey (6-2, 190, Fr.)
247Sports Composite #189 overall rated recruit
Team MVP: Osun Osunniyi
Getting Osunniyi was the perfect piece to tie this team together. As a shot blocker, there are few better than him, sitting at 75th all-time at the moment. With his post presence, both offensively and defensively Iowa State will be able to perform at a high level and shut teams down. The Big 12 is full of talented bigs, and Osunniyi might be up there as the best.
Make-or-Break Player: Jeremiah Williams
After a promising freshman campaign where he averaged nearly 10 points per game and 4 assists, Williams stayed at the same stats as a sophomore. He didn’t really take the leap many would hope but in a new system, this could change. If Williams can get that total up to 13, that can really fill that hole that opened when Brockington left. If he stays around that 9.5 mark, then the team may really struggle on offense, which can be the difference maker in some of these important conference battles.
Analytic to Know: 5th in AdjD in 2021-22
The way the Iowa State Cyclones were able to be so successful last year was the defense. They finished 5th in the nation in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, and a large part was the defensive ability of Tyrese Hunter. With him now gone, they will turn to Holmes to try to relieve that gap, but they do get a huge upgrade in the paint with Osunniyi. T.J Otzelberger knows that defense wins championships, and he’s going to do what he can to make sure this Iowa State Cyclones team stays around that mark.
🚨𝗡𝗼𝗻-𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲🚨
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) July 13, 2022
This team will really have to rely on guys to step up, but they have the capability of doing so. One thing to note is the experience of this team, with most likely the top 7 rotational players being upperclassmen, and most being a senior or 5th year. Experience matters in college basketball, and pairing to St. Bonaventure players who have been able to build chemistry the past few seasons will be very beneficial for the Cyclones.
The non-conference is grueling, starting with the Phil Knight Invitational. They will take on Villanova, and then potentially UNC, Uconn, Oregon, Michigan State, and Alabama. They will also take on St. John’s, Iowa, and Missouri as part of their non-conference schedule. If they can win three-six of those games, which is a big ask, their resume will be all but a lock to get in. They will also have to take on a Big 12 conference that could be just as, if not more difficult than last season, so keep an eye out on these Iowa State Cyclones.