Iowa State has had its pick of the transfer market ever since Fred Hoiberg became the Cyclones' coach in 2010, and although lots of new faces keep showing up in Ames, centers have been elusive.
Over the past four years, Hoiberg has only had one player over 6-foot-10 play significant minutes. That was Jamie Vanderbeken, a 6-foot-11 senior role player in Hoiberg's first season, left over from the Greg McDermott era. Last year's team had nobody over 6-foot-7. It ranked 325th nationally in effective height, according to KenPom.
This year, height has finally arrived.
The Cyclones signed 7-foot-1 Greek center Giorgos Tsalmpouris on Sunday. Tsalmpouris will play for the Greek national team this summer before joining Iowa State. It's quite the relief for ISU, whose second-tallest player at the beginning of the upcoming season will still be 6-foot-7 Georges Niang (the Giorgos-Georges combination should be deadly for both opponents and broadcasters).
However, Tsalmpouris will soon be getting help. Star 6-foot-9 JUCO forward Jameel McKay will likely be eligible in the second semester for the beginning of conference play, while fellow JUCO forward Darien Williams will sit out this year for shoulder surgery, but begin playing for the Cyclones in 2015-16.
The defensive assistance is obvious, but it will be interesting to see how Iowa State's offense changes with a bigger lineup in the fold. Even without much size, the Cyclones were still incredibly efficient on offense last season — virtually eliminating two-point jumpers while scoring in the paint and from beyond the arc. However, that was because, as Dylan Burkhardt of Shot Analytics points out, ISU had a very unique player in DeAndre Kane.
DeAndre Kane is the type of player that makes it possible to avoid taking mid-range jumpers because he's nearly impossible to keep out of the paint. Kane attempts 67% of his field goals in the paint and is able to use his size (6-foot-4) and strength (200 pounds) to muscle his way to the basket.
Even with an undersized team, 50.9 percent of Iowa State's shots were two-pointers, in large part because of Kane's savvy. However, in the previous two years, the Cyclones ranked near the bottom of Division I in percentage of two-pointers taken, and in no year under Hoiberg has the team been particularly good at getting to the line.
With a formidable frontcourt coming in, Iowa State has the opportunity to continue to be incredibly efficient on offense, with players who can score in the paint and from three. Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue are both solid players in the paint, but without Kane or some size coming in, the Cyclones' offense figured to take a step back. If Tsalmpouris can contribute immediately, it might not skip a beat.