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June 20, 2011

Okoro's commitment: what it means

As has been in the works for several weeks, 2012 shooting guard prospect Nkereuwem Okoro is now publicly committed to Iowa State. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Okoro is the second verbal commitment for ISU in it's 2012 class, joining power forward Georges Niang, who committed earlier this spring.

The Cyclones continue to make strong recruiting inroads in the New York City area thanks to new assistant coach Matt Abelmassih. Okoro is from St. Raymond's High School in the Bronx while 2011 addition Tavon Sledge is a Long Island product. Abelmassih may not have technically been the lead recruiter in landing Sledge since he was in operations and not a coach at that time, but clearly he has been the key to unlocking the Big Apple again for ISU.

It's a continuation of a trend as Fred Hoiberg mends fences, fixes previous damage and re-establishes Iowa State as a player in areas and with programs it needs and wants to be in. Niang is a Boston Area Basketball Club (BABC) product, the first to commit to ISU since Wayne Morgan was fired in 2006. Without question, the doors to BABC were padlocked and off limits to Cyclone coaches following Morgan's ouster. Now they are open.

And then there's New York. The last NYC product to come to Iowa State and make a mark was Curtis Stinson. He (and Blalock) signed with ISU when Larry Eustachy was head coach, but of course Morgan was the assistant coach charged with getting east coast kids to come to Ames and he delivered. It's a stretch to say New York was padlocked and off limits to Cyclone coaches following Morgan's ouster. But Abelmassih is the first ISU assistant since then who knows his way around NYC.

With Okoro and Niang plugged in to the Iowa State basketball pipeline as assumed future Cyclones, there are no glaring personnel needs for the 2012-13 season itself when it comes to how to allocate the one scholarship currently remaining. But looking ahead to 2013-14, ISU projects to have four bigs (4 and 5 positions) and a total of three other guys at the remaining three spots on the floor.

So if Iowa State is going to add to its 2012 class, a guard or small forward appears to be the way to go. As of this instant. If there's one thing we know about the basketball pipeline and projecting future needs, it's that it's always subject to change and usually does. How secure is Jordan Railey's future with ISU? How will incoming 2011 recruits fit in? How will transfers fit in? Who will actually sign for 2012? And who is at risk academically?

Projections are just guesses, albeit educated. The Iowa State staff will continue to be involved with 2012 prospects at multiple positions to make sure they are positioned to react to the next unknown personnel change that might come around the bend.


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