Conversation with The Ames Tribune's Travis Hines

Conversation with The Ames Tribune's Travis Hines

It's possible Illinois and Iowa State could meet in the Maui Invitational in November — delivering at least one major storyline. The Ames Tribune's Travis Hines breaks down what should be a talented, young Cyclones team in 2018-19:

1. How does Steve Prohm get things back on track after last year's 13-18 finish?

The talent on last year's team simply wasn't up to the level needed to be able to compete in the Big 12. That should be improved this season with a highly-touted recruiting class plus transfers Marial Shayok (Virginia) and Michael Jacobson (Nebraska) eligible after sitting out last season. The Cyclones will also be banking on the improvements of Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard into their sophomore seasons.

2. What are the expectations for Talen Horton-Tucker, the former Chicago Simeon standout?

On the low end of the spectrum, the expectation is he'll be a solid role player and contributor. On the high end, it's that he'll be a starter and a major difference-maker by the time conference play rolls around this winter. Iowa State is extremely high on him and feels it got a steal with Horton-Tucker being a late bloomer and with whatever happened behind the scenes with his recruitment by Illinois. He's not coming in with the fanfare Wigginton, a top 25 recruit, had last year, but it's not far off.

3. Is there a breakout candidate or two that could make a difference this coming season?

Iowa State is looking for big things out of Virginia transfer Shayok. He's obviously got winning experience having played in an Elite Eight under Tony Bennett with the Cavaliers, and he's got length, athleticism and versatility that the Cyclones have really lacked on the wing. The other top candidate would be Zion Griffin. The Hinsdale South product flies a little under the radar because of Horton-Tucker, but Griffin was offered by Kansas and really emerged as a high-level prospect. There isn't an immediately obvious natural spot for him in the rotation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him simply force his way into the lineup.