It’s not at all surprising, but Iowa State seniors Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane have earned national honors.
This is huge news for the Iowa State program, who have previously housed only four AP All-Americans. Ejim now joins Iowa State alumni Jamaal Tinsely, Marcus Fizer, Jeff Grayer, and Gary Thompson.
DeAndre Kane, meanwhile, earned an honorable mention by the AP, and has also been named an All-American by five outlets. The transfer from Marshall received the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award this season, putting up 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists a game.
Ejim and Kane definitely deserve these accolades. These guys led Iowa State to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2000 and won the Big 12 Tournament.
These accolades also highlight just how sorely missed these two will be next year.
Ejim was an intimidating presence down low and could shoot the three pointer. Kane was a tall point guard who set up his teammates, could grind it out down low, and shoot prolifically from anywhere.
The question remains, how does Iowa State replace them?
Well, over the long term, Fred Hoiberg will recruit top-class players from all over the country. He has built up the Iowa State program to the point of the team getting some national spotlight, and I’m convinced high quality players will find their way to Ames.
Looking at next year, though, some young Cyclones look ready to step up. Freshman Monte Morris will take over point guard duties, and as the nation’s best player in assist-to-turnover ratio, it seems like he’ll do just fine.
Sharpshooters Naz Long and Matt Thomas will have greater roles next year, and Thomas, who was especially raw, will be molded by Hoiberg to be a much more potent player.
And speaking of raw players, forward Daniel Edozie fits that description. He’s a very physical forward who can learn to use his body to great effect in the post. He’s not Melvin Ejim, but he can become a formidable presence.
Georges Niang is now the undisputed leader of the team, and I have a feeling Niang will come back from his foot raring to go. The forward shot 47 percent from the floor, averaging 16.7 points a game this season. I expect those numbers to expand with Ejim and Kane departing.
I also like what Dustin Hogue will contribute next year. The UConn game showed me he can be a leader on offense and not just a rebounding presence. Hogue will be a senior next year, so he will be implicitly counted on to produce more than his 11 points a game.
I predict the starting five next year to look like this: Monte Morris, Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Dustin Hogue, and Georges Niang. It’s a little guard-heavy, I admit, but hopefully Edozie or a different forward will be a reliable sixth man off the bench. But this starting five says to me that Iowa State will continue putting up a lot of shots, sharing the rock as they do so.
In other words, the high-flying, high-scoring ISU offense will continue, even without Ejim and Kane.