AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State lost the best point guard in school history to graduation in Monte Morris.
The Cyclones compensated by signing freshman Lindell Wigginton, one of the biggest recruits in program history.
For the first time in four years, Iowa State will be without Morris, who broke the NCAA career record with a 4.65 assist-to-turnover ratio and set school records for career assists (768) and steals (225). The Cyclones hope they’ve found a worthy successor in Wigginton, who was ranked 31st nationally as a senior in the composite recruiting rankings and was the top-ranked prep player from Canada.
Iowa State (24-11 in 2016-17) opens its season at Missouri on Friday.
“Lindell is a physical, physical guard. He needs to continue to learn and grow from an understanding of … just the little things,” said coach Steve Prohm, who continually tried to temper expectations for Wigginton during the team’s media day last week. “I don’t even want to compare those guys, to be honest. I just want him to max out Lindell Wigginton. And if he does that, he can do some really good things.”
Prohm, in his third season at Iowa State, has made a name for himself as someone whose system works best with an aggressive point guard. Prohm definitely got the best out of Morris — and he likely won’t wait long to see what Wigginton can do.
Wigginton grew up in Nova Scotia. As his talents became more apparent, he transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Wigginton averaged a team-high 16.4 points per game as a junior for a team that is routinely ranked among the best in the country. As a senior, Wigginton scored 20.1 points, had 4.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game and was named Virginia’s player of the year.
But perhaps Wigginton’s most impressive moment came this summer at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Cairo. Wigginton averaged 12.4 points, seven rebounds and 4.2 assists as Canada won the gold medal.
Wigginton said Prohm wants him “to stay in attack mode and lead my team” adding: “As a freshman, I’m strong. I can get to the lane, shoot the mid-range shot.”
The biggest question for Prohm might be how to use Wigginton and senior point guard Donovan Jackson — a former Iowa Western standout and arguably the program’s best returning player — on the floor together.
Jackson flourished late last season as a scoring threat off the bench with Morris entrenched as the starter. In his final 16 games last season, Jackson averaged 8.1 points and shot 58.5 percent on 3-pointers.
Jackson and Wigginton have been working to get their chemistry down and find a way to complement each other during practice.
“He’s more of an attacking downhill (player). I’m more of a mid-range, 3-(point shooter) and get to the bucket when I can type of guy,” Jackson said. “Our games balance each other out.”
The comparisons between Morris and Wigginton will be inevitable given the hype that accompanied Wigginton to Ames. But while Prohm is excited about Wigginton’s potential, Prohm knows that he has a long way to go to match Morris’ production.
“The toughest position to play on the floor is point guard, especially as a freshman,” Prohm said. “I expect him to be a very, very good defender … and offensively, to put pressure on the defense. Be good on the pick-and-roll, be good in space and get to the free-throw line.”