By Jon Rothstein
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Royce White may never play another game at Iowa State but that doesn’t mean the Cyclones will fall from the top half of the Big 12 without him.
When reached on Thursday from Atlanta where he’s working out for next month’s NBA draft, White raved about Iowa State’s potential for next year and highlighted the talents of Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn, two players that will be eligible next season after transferring.
“I couldn’t have left the team in better hands,” White said. “They’re (Iowa State) going to pick up right where we left off.”
Lucious, the team’s incumbent starting point guard, played on two Final Four teams at Michigan State and figures to get the baton from Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg as soon as practice starts in October.
“Korie is unguardable,” White said. “You can’t touch him in ball screen situations. He gets really low as great point guards do and does a great job of going from slow to fast. The ball is always on a string when it’s in his hands.”
White also raved about Clyburn, a transfer from Utah that put up big numbers before changing locations and coming to Ames. During the 2010-11 season with the Utes, Clyburn averaged 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest while shooting an impressive 40.3% from 3-point range.
“He’s big time,” White said of Clyburn. “He’s really crafty and is a good scorer. I’d bet that a year from now that he’s going to get drafted.”
Also returning for the Cyclones are veteran guards Chris Babb and Tyrus McGee as well as forwards Melvin Ejim and Percy Gibson. Freshman Georges Niang, a consensus Top 100 recruit will also provide some scoring pop and should be an instant factor in the rotation.
“There’s going to be a good blend of pieces,” White said. “Coach Hoiberg is best in the business at exploiting mismatches and that’s just what he’ll do. Chris Babb assumed a defensive role last season but he’s going to resemble the shooting form that we saw at the start of last year — and Tyrus McGee is the hardest working guy on the team and should be better than he was last season.”
As for White, he’s just trying to prepare himself for the next phase of his career after leading Iowa State to a memorable season that was highlighted by a win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament over UCONN.
“I’m just trying to refine my outside shooting,” said White, a potential lottery pick. “I’m shooting it pretty well but by no means am I great shooter. Growing up as a Timberwolves fan, it gives me a lot of hope watching a guy like Kevin Love, someone who didn’t come into the NBA as a great shooter but now he’s really shooting it well. I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just want to focus on getting better and put myself in a position where I can go to a team and be successful for a long time.”
What’s your prediction for Iowa State? Be heard in the comments below…