At some point during Tuesday night’s tilt between Iowa State and Baylor at Hilton Coliseum, there will come a moment when 14,356 fans rise to their feet to cheer for something that isn’t happening on the court. Well, I guess you could say 14,356 minus two.
Former star player and head coach Fred Hoiberg will be in attendance for an Iowa State men’s basketball game for the first time since he left to become the head coach of the Chicago Bulls nearly four years ago when Steve Prohm‘s team welcomes Scott Drew’s Bears to Ames. Hoiberg will be joined at the game by another one of the program’s all-time greats returning for his first game since his playing career ended — Monte Morris.
“When he gets in, he’ll talk, whether it’s before practice or after practice, he’ll visit with the guys (on Monday),” Prohm said of Hoiberg’s return. “That’s great. Anytime you can get a guy like Fred back is tremendous for our program. He’s one of seven guys to have their jersey retired here, No. 4 in scoring all-time, played in three NCAA tournaments. Then he’s really the guy that, to be honest, it is what is it, he’s the one guy that’s really led the renaissance back of where Iowa State basketball is today.”
Hoiberg, a two-time All-Big Eight honoree as a player, is credited with bringing Iowa State basketball back into national prominence after taking over as the program’s head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. The Cyclones made the NCAA Tournament in his second season, starting a string of four consecutive berths in the big dance, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2014.
He recorded a 115-56 record at the program’s helm and won back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles in 2014 and 2015.
“If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be where it is today. Obviously, a lot of other people played a part, his staff, those players, but he’s the one that really led the charge,” Prohm said. “He took over after four straight losing seasons and then went to four straight NCAA tournaments, two Big 12 tournament titles, a Sweet 16. He left the program in a really good place for the next guy to take over.”
Obviously, Prohm was that next guy who took over and was left in the unenviable position of replacing one of the most popular figures in the history of Iowa State athletics. He did so with a cupboard stocked full of talented players that now dot NBA rosters across the country, including Morris who has become a breakout player this season with the Denver Nuggets.
A native of Flint, Mich., Morris was recruited by Hoiberg in the 2013 class then burst onto the scene as a true freshman by recording a then NCAA record 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio while helping the Cyclones reach the Sweet 16. He continued to grow throughout his career and ultimately played his two best collegiate seasons under Prohm, culminating with first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as a senior.
Morris left Iowa State as the program’s all-time leader in assists and steals. He led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio all four years of his college career, including breaking his record set as a freshman during his senior season.
“Anytime you can get those guys back is great,” Prohm said. “What it shows is how much these guys care about Iowa State and that’s what’s cool.”