You won’t see Dominique Buckley – or any other Iowa State guard – wasting away their summer by the pool or on the couch playing video games.
Too much is at stake. If he wants to see the court next season, Buckley needs to take advantage of every waking moment.
“It’s a whole new atmosphere from last year to this year,” said Buckley, who played in 25 games last season as a freshman, averaging 1.3 points and 0.8 assists. “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. We all want to play and we all want to win games.”
The Cyclones finally have some depth in the backcourt with two-year starter Diante Garrett, starting shooting guard Lucca Staiger, junior Charles Boozer, Buckley, Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson and touted freshman Chris Colvin.
Competition for playing time will be fierce, and already is this summer during workouts, pickup ball and Capital City League games.
“We are in a position as a coaching staff where we have some choices to make,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “Who ends up separating themselves from that group is going to be up to them.”
Buckley has spent all but one week this spring and summer on campus.
The Detroit native has been taking summer classes and improving his skills. Jumping rope, defensive slides, balance, running, shooting, ball-handling – he’s done it all in working on his overall game.
“I really don’t have anything else to do except sleep, eat and go to class I might as well work on it when I can,” Buckley said. “Summer is a time to get better.”
The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore had a slow start to his first season, then earned his way into the rotation by season’s end.
Buckley has played well since season’s end and clearly is improved.
“I’ve been very pleased with his development,” McDermott said.
Garrett has focused his offseason work in the weight room. He came to ISU as a 160-pound freshman and now is just under 185. His goal is to tip the scales at over 190 pounds.
The point guard is at his best getting into the lane and creating offense for himself and others off the dribble.
“I’ve been in the weight room all summer. I’m getting a lot stronger,” Garrett said. “I think that will help out even more than getting in the gym and getting 1,000 jumps shots up a day.”
Staiger returns as the Cyclones’ leader in 3-pointers made last year.
Boozer provides an energy boost off the bench with his defense and hustle.
Christopherson looks to be a well-rounded player with toughness and scoring ability.
Colvin is a talented prospect with good all-around skills that could work at either guard spot.
This will be McDermott’s deepest ISU team yet, which means playing time will be well-deserved – at every position.
“Everyone wants to play. Unfortunately there are only five guys that step on the court,” Colvin said.