Brackins’ return could be a turning point

Few people have the perspective on Iowa State men’s basketball of Gary Thompson.

That’s why the Roland Rocket was grinning from ear to ear Friday as Cyclone star Craig Brackins sent Cyclone Nation into a tizzy in announcing he was returning for at least one more season.

Brackins’ choice to come back is monumental on so many levels. Thompson knows it.

Future recruiting efforts will be buoyed. Next year should involve postseason play of some kind. The program’s profile will get a leg up. Fans have reason to believe this team isn’t starting from stratch yet again.

Most importantly, Thompson says, Coach Greg McDermott and his staff finally can look ahead to the coming season with confidence in their roster.

“It’s great because it’s the first time this staff has been able to get some continuity and carry it over from one year to the next,” Thompson said. “They were dealt a short deck with all the kids that left that first year and that just perpetuated itself.”

Before McDermott got his name on the door, guards Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock jumped to the NBA. A half-dozen of his inherited players and recruits followed.

The following year it was Mike Taylor, Dodie Dunson & Co.

Last spring Wesley Johnson stunned us all by leaving the program and transferring to Syracuse.

Brackins showed loyalty to his coach and teammates when he could easily have left behind a team that’s gone 29-32 in his two seasons. Could you have blamed him?

With the 6-10 big man in the fold, ISU is no longer a candidate for last place. If newcomers can have an impact, and returning players continue improving, this can be a good team.  

“You are going to see fans who are more optimistic about the season,” Thompson said. “If (Brackins) doesn’t come back you are on the negative side and think we are starting all over. It’s a great situation for everybody.”

McDermott, in particular.

We may look back on this day years from now as a turning point. Had Brackins bolted, ISU likely has another losing season, which would be four and counting for McDermott.

Not good, even with the difficult situation he walked in to and other programs seeing quick results after making coaching changes.

Thompson knows.

Brackins back — even for one season — changes everything for Iowa State basketball.


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