Craig Brackins’ exit from Iowa State’s basketball program hardly comes as a surprise.
Justin Hamilton’s does.
And it hurts. Bad.
The sophomore center was the Cyclones’ most improved player this season and an expected anchor of the team’s frontcourt next year and beyond. But after two seasons of teaching and bodyshaping – turning Hamilton into a player opposing teams have to include on their scouting report – he’s gone, looking for a school closer to his home state of Utah.
The smart money says he lands at BYU.
Hamilton’s decision came as a surprise to many. Here he was a few days earlier when asked about next season, where the uncertainly lied with Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap:
“We have to just see what happens. I’m sure everything will work out,” he said. “We’ll have a great team next year… We are going to have a lot of unknowns. We are going to have to have a lot of guys improve over the summer.”
Now, days after coach Greg McDermott and athletic director Jamie Pollard professed their excitement over next year’s team, the roster is yet again in tatters.
Here was Pollard last Monday:
“There’s a group of individuals that are coming back that have played in the toughest conference in the country hands down… and been in games,” he said. “I look at that nucleus and stay that isn’t starting over.”
Hamilton was at the center of that nucleus. Not anymore.
Four-fifths of the lineup that started ISU’s 2009-10 season opener (Brackins, Hamilton, Gilstrap and Lucca Staiger) is history.
So who’s left?
Diante Garrett will be a senior. So will reserve forward LaRon Dendy.
Charles Boozer and Jamie Vanderbeken are coming back off injury.
Chris Colvin says he’s coming back. Should we believe him?
Scott Christopherson has already left one school to come to ISU. He isn’t going anywhere.
Antwon Oliver and Bubo Palo rode out redshirts this season and don’t figure to go elsewhere before ever playing a game.
Signed for next year is Brewster (N.H.) Academy wing Melvin Ejim and Marshalltown Community College guard DeMarcus Phillips. Oregon prep center Jordan Railey has verbally committed.
That’s 10 scholarship players on the hook right now for next season – assuming no one else decides to pick up and leave.
Three spots are open.
McDermott and his staff are recruiting the junior college ranks heavily, and they need to. Immediate help is imperative for a team that went 15-17 overall, 4-12 in the Big 12, and now has lost its top two scorers and three best rebounders.
“We’ve got to have guys who are committed to each other and are committed to the institution. If you have that, you have a chance,” McDermott said. “I like the new guys that we have coming in and hopefully we can add to that.”
Playing time will be a big selling point.
It should be an interesting couple of weeks before the start of the late signing period.