Jack Trice Stadium, Star Wars Create Incredible “Movie Night”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins on the Jack Trice Stadium video board.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins on the Jack Trice Stadium video board.

Editor’s Note: There are no spoilers in this article, I would not want to ruin Star Wars for Matt Shoultz when he finally relents and watches all of them in one sitting.

This story is almost a perfect storm for me, involving two things which I know way more about than the typical person should: Iowa State Athletics and Star Wars.

I have worked at Iowa State for seven years as either a student intern or a full-time employee, been to (literally) thousands of Iowa State athletics events all over the world and it is awesome and an honor which I love every single day. I have seen Star Wars … a lot. While my memory at the ripe old age of 27 fades me, I know I had seen the originals before the Special Editions came out in theaters in 1997, Star Wars has become something I love.

While I do not consider myself a stereotypical “Star Wars nerd”, I am guilty of some offenses to being a nerd, such as skipping History 318 my senior year at Iowa State to buy the Star Wars Saga on Blu-Ray … and only watch the special features, reading the entire Luke Skywalker entry on Wookiepedia (that is not a typo) and preparing a plan to see The Force Awakens in Omaha in case the volleyball team made the Final Four the weekend it came out.

Cy somehow snuck that lightsaber past security.

Cy somehow snuck that lightsaber past security.

So when we announced that The Force Awakens was going to be the Jr. Cyclone Club (JCC) Movie Night film this year I was pumped. Obviously, Movie Night’s target audience is not mid-20s Iowa State Athletics employees, but I was not going to point that out. Either watching a movie one likes, or to play FIFA soccer video games on the Jack Trice Stadium video board is one of those things males who have watched TV or played video games in the last 20 years talk about, and never expect to actually happen.

Not pictured: emotional author crying tears of joy.

Not pictured: emotional author crying tears of joy.

Except this time it did. I was based out of my office in the Jacobson Building helping cover our track and field team out at the Big 12 Championships, so it was a short walk outside to see what was happening right when the gates opened. While people were staking out their territory to watch the movie, another thing I noticed was that a lot of kids brought balls to play catch on.

Like the dream of seeing a movie on the video board, it made me reflect on how many kids just loved the opportunity to be on the field of Jack Trice Stadium. When I was a kid, and we visited my parents’ families in Carroll and/or Fort Dodge, my dad always made it a point to make a “pilgrimage” to Jack Trice Stadium on the way back home to West Des Moines. Most of the time it was just to drive past the stadium, sometimes we walked up to the gates to the field just to see it. It always made my dad’s day, just to see the field and the stadium and know that football season would soon be here, no matter if it was December, April or July.

The crowd at Jack Trice Stadium ready for The Force Awakens

The crowd at Jack Trice Stadium ready for The Force Awakens

The stadium still holds that kind of pull. Most days, I see people pulling up to the stadium or coming into the Jacobson Building, just to say they were there. They know they are not getting on the field, or in the stadium, but just being there does it for them. In May 2011 when Osama bin Laden was killed, the night-long celebration eventually went to the stadium. The plan was not to go into the stadium, but people just felt the celebration that had already been taken from The Knoll, down Lincoln Way, up Welch Ave. and through Greekland needed to stop by the stadium, too.

I am lucky. I get to see the stadium, and by being in the Jacobson Building, more or less be in the stadium every single day. While that does not enter my mind every day (I have to get to work!), when it does it allows me to appreciate what I do and who I get to work for.

"Go deep!" "Nice catch!"

“Go deep!” “Nice catch!”

Then I think about those kids at the movie tonight. For many of them, Movie Night is the one night a year they get to take the field at Jack Trice Stadium, just like their heroes on Saturdays. Getting to tell your friends at school that you played catch in a college football stadium, and saw Star Wars at the same time is a double whammy that will give them bragging rights for a while.

When I visited Texas A&M for the first time in 2010, I snuck into Kyle Field (the hole in the fence was probably not an “entrance”), and went right to the corner where Todd Blythe caught his third touchdown against the Aggies in 2005, just hoping Bret Meyer would magically show up and toss one up for me to go after.

So while tonight was about getting to see Star Wars at Jack Trice Stadium, it was also creating memories, even if they do not all involve Han Solo, Rey and Kylo Ren.

The satisfied (and probably cold) moviegoers head home for the night.

The satisfied (and probably cold) moviegoers head home for the night.

Posted in Iowa State Athletics | Leave a comment

Reconstructing One’s Identity After Injury

Nelson, Crystal_NCAA Midwest Regional2013-14-5

Crystal Nelson of Iowa State finishes in first place at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Midwest Regional in Ames, Iowa on November 15, 2013. Photograph by Wesley Winterink.

Story written by Iowa State Athletics Communications student assistant, Kevin Horner

It started as shoulder pain, a defining characteristic of a runner returning back to form. She was a runner, after all.

This particular shoulder soreness, however, didn’t recede. It expanded. The pain, which was initially thought to be a broken rib, crept dangerously over the front of her shoulders toward her heart — and maybe her soul.

The pain returned to senior Crystal Nelson. It was worse this time, though. She couldn’t breathe. With every inhalation came a wave of sharp, debilitating pain.

“It was almost like someone was stabbing me in the chest,” Nelson said.

The doctors diagnosed it as pericarditis, heart inflammation, which for Nelson, a two-time All-American track and cross-country runner, meant at least six months of total rest — no exercise whatsoever. She was a runner who couldn’t run, but after all, she was still a runner.

Nelson had been a runner for her whole life, ever since elementary school physical education class. She was one of the few students who got excited when the mile test arrived. While some may have viewed the mile as an obstacle to get past, Nelson viewed it as an opportunity — an opportunity to beat the boys in her class.

And she beat the boys, but not always easily. Sometimes she’d run so hard that she’d have to throw up afterward. But it was worth it to beat the boys — to win the race.

She was a runner, after all.

Nelson carried her success with her to Ames, Iowa, to run for Iowa State. During her first three years as a Cyclone, Nelson earned All-American honors twice — among other accolades — and became just the second ISU cross-country runner to win an individual Big 12 title.

Nelson’s running career, since that elementary school P.E. class, seemed to have been building up until her senior year. Her level of success had increased from year to year, so naturally her expectations for her final year were high.

Then the pain came — in more ways than one.

The doctors didn’t know, and still don’t know, what caused the lining of Nelson’s heart to inflame. It could’ve been a virus. It could’ve been the hole in her heart that had been there since birth.

Nelson’s mind ran the gamut of emotions from shock to anger to depression as she tried to process the news.

“The entire cross-country season, I was seeing everyone doing the thing that I loved,” Nelson said. “And I wanted them to succeed, but at the same time, I was jealous because I wanted to be on the field with them, running for Iowa State.”

In her mind, Nelson was still a runner, but that mindset — the adamancy to remain something she couldn’t be at that time — began to have negative consequences. Her sole motivation was to return to her sport, her element, and, as a result, her grades began to drop.

“I felt like, ‘I’m [at ISU] for running,’” Nelson said. “I was recruited to run here. I felt like I wasn’t really here for academics, so I kind of let it go and didn’t really care.”

It made sense to Nelson. Nearly her entire life — her time, her money, her effort — had been dedicated to this sport. Now that running had been taken from her, the only logical option seemed to be to wait it out — wait until she could run again, be herself once again.

Nelson isolated herself from everyone around her. She was diagnosed and struggled with depression earlier in her career, and those thoughts began to amplify.

“My world just started crumbling,” Nelson said. “I felt like I was in this deep, dark hole that I could not get out of. I just felt hopeless. I felt like I wasn’t anyone.”


DeCosta, Kristen_Minnesota2013-14-4

Everything seemed to move a bit slower for Kristen DeCosta as she touched down in Iowa to begin her gymnastics career at Iowa State.

Ames didn’t have the pace of Dallas, DeCosta’s hometown.

The Midwest had DeCosta out of her element, but that’s what she’d expected. She knew she would have to make sacrifices. She knew it might be rough, but she chose it.

She had moved out of her geographical element to remain in her personal element — gymnastics.

She began her freshman season focused — focused on proving herself, on keeping her scholarship, on being a successful gymnast.

DeCosta’s hands released the high bar during her bars routine as she launched herself into the air during an early season practice. She was attempting a jaeger — a flip on the uneven bars — but when she reached out to catch the bar at the end of her skill, it wasn’t there.

With a thud, DeCosta smacked the mat below, face first, as frustration boiled to the surface of her emotions. It was still early, but she had yet to prove herself. At least she wasn’t hurt, she thought. She’d have another chance tomorrow.

DeCosta awoke the next morning with a headache. She’d had headaches before, but not like this. This one was more powerful, more consuming. She had trouble concentrating. She could hardly keep herself awake.

“It felt like I was in someone else’s body,” DeCosta said.

She had to push these physical obstacles aside, DeCosta thought to herself. This was her time to prove herself — to show that she belonged as a Division I gymnast. She needed to know that she didn’t move across the country for nothing.

DeCosta struggled to walk straight at practice. She couldn’t stay on the beam. She couldn’t flip through the air. A couple of times, she got “lost in a skill,” DeCosta said. During a skill — mid-air, mid-flip — her mind would shut down, her body would stop its motion and she would fall to the ground. It was as if a gap had been created in her memory.

After athletic trainers tested her, it was evident that DeCosta had suffered a concussion. This evidence wasn’t limited to the gym either. Light and noise were amplified inside of DeCosta’s head. Homework became almost an impossibility because she couldn’t focus for more than 20 minutes at a time. Those weren’t DeCosta’s main concerns at the time, however.

“As a freshman, it is really difficult to be out of competition,” DeCosta said. “You don’t know much about how the system works, so you believe that the sole reason you are here is for your gymnastics. When you get taken out of that, it becomes a really scary situation.”

Fears began to replace focus inside of DeCosta’s mind. Would she keep her scholarship amid her injury? Would she compete at all this season? Was she qualified to still be a gymnast?

Her mind raced. She had moved here to stay within her element, but that’s not how she felt. She didn’t feel within her own mind and body, much less her element.

DeCosta’s concussion amplified seemingly small annoyances — like a homework assignment. This led to frustration, which led to more headaches, which delayed her recovery.

“I completely lost confidence in myself,” DeCosta said. “All I could remember was I did this, I messed up, I was out and it was my own fault.”

Doubts began to dominate DeCosta’s thoughts. She started to feel incompetent as a gymnast. Like Nelson, DeCosta felt isolated from the team as she couldn’t participate in practice or in meets. The team spent most of its nights practicing or competing while DeCosta spent most of hers alone in a dark room.

“Being injured, it is really easy to think, you know, ‘I’m not training. I’m not competing, and [the team] is doing just fine without me,’” DeCosta said. “‘Why am I even here?’”


Division I athletes often choose their paths almost immediately — because early is usually the only option. This path isn’t necessarily available later in life, or in high school even, said Jamie Pollard, ISU director of athletics.

A committed athlete can’t waste time, or he or she may be taken off course without enough time to return. There isn’t much time for anything outside of the particular sport.

“You can’t do [a Division I sport] part-time or ‘half-assed.’ You’ve got to go all-in,” Pollard said. “There isn’t time for study abroad. There isn’t time for internships. And that’s a choice you make.”

It’s a choice that may limit future choices, but it’s the same as any other commitment, Pollard said. If one wants to perform at the highest level, in any area of work, field or sport, one has to commit to that persona, that element, that identity.

With commitment naturally comes risk. The same may apply to student-athletes, Pollard said. If an athlete, who’s been training his or her entire life to compete at a Division I level, suffers a season- or career-ending injury, they might have nowhere to turn.

“[If an athlete suffers an injury], their identity is gone,” Pollard said. “It’s gone because their whole life they’ve been identified as an athlete. That’s unfortunate.”

For this reason, injuries, especially extended injuries, may be more difficult than an outsider might assume. These injuries don’t just postpone or end hobbies or fun activities. These injuries affect athlete’s entire lives and identities. Nelson fell into isolation and depression following her diagnosis. DeCosta questioned whether she should’ve even left Dallas to come to Ames.

“[Getting injured] is heartbreaking,” said Sammie Pearsall, ISU senior gymnast. “Whenever you see someone get injured in the gym, the whole team feels it. It’s like team heartache.”

Injuries don’t have to mean depression or heartache, said Jay Ronayne, ISU gymnastics coach. The injuries themselves don’t define the time away from the sport, but rather, it depends on the response. One might choose to sink into isolation, or one might choose to focus on the positives and new roles to take on the team.

“It’s an individual thing,” Ronayne said. “Probably the worst thing is that you have these plans. You’re making tons of progress, and then all of a sudden, the train comes off the tracks. Mentally, that’s a difficult thing to handle, but every athlete goes through it. How you handle it, that’s an individual thing.”

The response to an injury, however, depends on one’s perceived identity, Pollard said. To open oneself up to positive responses to injury, an athlete has to distinguish his or her identity outside of their sport. If they don’t do that, injuries can be much more than physically dangerous.

“I think most [athletes] are not defined [just by their sport], but some definitely are,” Pollard said. “Is Thomas Pollard [Jamie’s son], is his identity as a runner? I hope not, but it’s pretty hard not to be.”


The time away provided new perspective for both DeCosta and Nelson. These athletes realized they could no longer find their identities solely in their respective sports. They were more than athletes.

DeCosta suffered three more concussions during her ISU career and ended up making the decision to retire from gymnastics prior to her senior season. After her fourth concussion, she said she realized that her life extended past gymnastics. There was more to Kristen DeCosta than a floor routine or a run down the vault, she said.

DeCosta used her time to explore her identity beyond gymnastics. She got an internship, she worked for a campus magazine and she began doing television commentary for Cyclones.tv at the gymnastics home meets. She may have come to Iowa to pursue one path, but she discovered, perhaps the hard way, that she wasn’t limited to one element.

“As a senior, I’ve been able to see that this sport ends and there’s so much more to my life,” DeCosta said. “[Having a life beyond gymnastics] was more important to me than competing one more year.”

Nelson’s story played out differently than DeCosta’s, given she’s had three fewer years to cope with this time away. After slipping into depression, the “deep, dark hole” that she’d mentioned, her teammates and coaches took notice and surrounded her, Nelson said. She came out of that isolation approaching life in new ways.

“When [a sport] gets taken away from you, you start to question, ‘ok. Who am I?’” Nelson said. “‘Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Who really am I outside of a runner?’”

She refocused on her academics and developed a love for her major. She joined clubs, explored new relationships and changed her perception of her identity. Like DeCosta, Nelson discovered she was more than just an athlete — more than just a runner.

Amid this re-identification, Nelson’s condition improved as her chest pain began to recede — hope of running again. A light at the end of a deep, dark tunnel.

Now that six months have passed, Nelson has begun to run again. With the return of her strides, however, so the pain has also returned. That ominously familiar pain that threatened to claim much more than just Nelson’s ability to run.

But this time, things are different. The pain may creep toward her heart, but it can no longer reach her soul — her identity.

She’s more than a runner, after all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hoop Bits (4-27-16)

Prohm Ranks Among Nation’s Top Coaches

Steve Prohm’s first five years as a head coach have been incredibly successful. The proof is in the numbers. Prohm became eligible for the NCAA’s active winning percentage charts after completing his fifth season as a head coach. His .756 winning percentage puts him at No. 6 among active head coaches.

Winning Percentages2

That’s a pretty impressive list, one that includes 11 national championships.

Morris Leads Way

When Monté Morris announced that he would return for his senior season it meant that Iowa State would have one the nation’s top players and Cousy Award finalist back to help smooth the transition from the Georges Niang era. Morris has been one of the best point guards the last two years, giving the Cyclones a playmaker with poise.

Last Thursday, Texas’ point guard Isaiah Taylor announced he would sign with an agent. Taylor’s decision made Morris the Big 12’s leading scorer among returnees. But that’s not it, he’s one of the best in a number of categories. Here is a breakdown:

Monte Big 12 Stats2

Jakolby Long In ESPN’s Final 2016 Top 100

ESPN released its final 2016 Top 100 rankings yesterday and Cyclone signee Jakolby Long ranked No. 100 on the list. The Mustang, Oklahoma native signed with the Cyclones in November and went on to average 24.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a senior.

Here is a Q&A with Long as posted by The Oklahoman.

Key Dates For Deonte Burton

It was announced last night that Deonte Burton had entered his name in the NBA Draft. Without signing an agent, Burton is able to gather feedback from NBA teams and still return to Iowa State for his senior season.

By announcing his intentions, Burton, the 2016 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, becomes eligible to be drafted in the NBA Draft, which takes place June 23, 2016. For informational purposes, here are the key dates for Burton:

April 26: Can start working out for NBA Teams. Student-athletes cannot miss class to attend a workout.
May 10-15: Can compete in NBA Draft Combine, if selected, in Chicago.
May 25: Deadline to decide whether to stay in/withdraw from the NBA Draft.

Niang Jersey On Display At Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Going to be in the Springfield, Massachusetts area in the next year? Head on over to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. When there, you will find Georges Niang’s Iowa State jersey on display. The jersey is part of the display honoring the college basketball award recipients, with Niang’s representing the Karl Malone Award, an honor he received in early April.


Keep an eye on @CycloneMBB and we’ll let you know when the jersey will officially go on display. If you do make it to the hall of fame, take a picture of you next to the jersey display and tweet it at our account.

The 3-Ball

When Iowa State went just 2-for-10 behind the arc against Colorado in the first game of the Steve Prohm era, many wondered if this was a sign of things to come. Prohm said it was simply a product of taking what was given to them and he didn’t anticipate it becoming the norm.

It didn’t. The Cyclones hit the third most 3-pointers in school history (293) and did it at the fourth-best clip (38.7).

Just how efficient was the Cyclones’ offensive attack in the first season under Prohm? No other team in the top-25 for 3-point field-goal percentage shot better than the Cyclones on 2-point field-goal attempts (56.7).

Posted in Men's Basketball | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Groce To ‘Finish What I Started’ At ISU

Damien Groce007AMES, Iowa – Walking across the stage and receiving your diploma is a special moment for all Iowa State students. The same feeling applies for Cyclone student-athletes. A handful of Cyclone athletes will earn their degrees next weekend, a final exclamation point on a collegiate career full of success and accomplishments.

One Cyclone student-athlete may be a little more emotional than the others when he receives his diploma at commencement. He should be, because when former football star Damien Groce enrolled at Iowa State in the fall of 1998, his goal was to be the first person from his family to graduate from college.

Eighteen years later, Groce will be in Ames to realize his dream.

“This hasn’t been an easy road, I can promise you that much,” Groce said in a phone interview. “There have been a lot of sacrifices made by my family. There will be so much joy inside my heart.”

A native of San Bernardino, California, the 37-year-old Groce was one of the top junior college wide receivers in the nation when the Cyclones signed him out of San Bernardino Valley Community College.

Groce fit in right away on a team needing depth at wide receiver. Though undersized at 5-10, Groce made up for his lack of size with outstanding speed and dependable hands. He was a legitimate big-play threat, recording 47 catches for 640 yards and seven TDs en route to Second-Team All-Big 12 honors in 1998.

One of Groce’s most memorable games in his junior season was a 10-catch, 116-yard and 3-TD performance at Texas Tech. His three TD receptions tied a then-school record (Todd Blythe currently owns the record with four TD catches against Texas A&M in 2005).

“I’ll never forget that Texas Tech game,” Groce remembered. “My mom was able to be there and watch the game and see me score three touchdowns. That was probably one of the coolest moments of my career.”

Groce was considered one of the top returning wideouts in the Big 12 heading into the 1999 campaign. He was influential in helping the Cyclones defeat Iowa for the second-straight year, catching three passes for 113 yards, including an 80-yard TD reception to put ISU up 14-0 in the first quarter. Groce called it, “an awesome moment.”

Damien Groce006

Damien Groce dashes 80 yards on a TD reception in Iowa State’s 17-10 win over Iowa in 1999.


It seemed destined Groce would repeat as an all-conference performer until bum luck got in the way. In the fifth game of the season, Groce broke his arm in the third quarter at nationally-ranked Nebraska.

His Cyclone career was over.

“I broke my left arm against Nebraska,” Groce said. “I had already played too many games to get a redshirt. When I knew I couldn’t get a redshirt, I was devastated. As a junior college player, I think it hurt more, because you only have two years. It was a setback, but the injury helped motivate me for my future.”

Playing professionally was always in Groce’s DNA. His size made NFL scouts shy away, but there were plenty of other suitors who wanted Groce a part of their organization, including the Arena Football League.

Groce enjoyed a fruitful career in the AFL, playing for six teams from 2000-08. In 2005, Groce caught 116 passes for 1,417 yards and 21 TDs for the Columbus Destroyers.

The league was perfect for his abilities.

“When I first left Iowa State, I had some tryouts with a couple of Canadian Football League teams,” Groce said. “I then got a chance to play in the AFL for the Los Angeles Avengers. I played three games, then tore my right knee. Brian Gregory (former Iowa Barnstormers coach) then gave me a tryout with the New York Dragons. He gave me a second chance and I ended up having a fun career in the AFL.”

In the middle of his AFL career, Groce received a strange phone call out of the blue from Paramount Pictures. The movie company was doing a re-boot of the gridiron classic “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler and rap artist Nelly as two of its stars.

Paramount needed actual football players to perform the football scenes in the movie, and the company felt Groce had a strong resemblance to Nelly.

Welcome to Hollywood, Damien.

“It was kind of weird,” Groce remembered. “I thought it was a joke. They said I looked like Nelly and they were shooting this movie. I went out there and tried out and everybody pretty much thought I was the man for the job, so they gave it to me.”

His work in “The Longest Yard” opened more doors in Hollywood for Groce. In the Mark Wahlberg movie “Invincible,” a picture based on real-life Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale’s journey from bartender to special teams star, Groce was again asked to assist.

In the scene where the Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys, Groce is out there making tackles for America’s Team.

“It was a blast to hang out with guys like Adam Sandler and Mark Wahlberg every day,” Groce reflected on his stint in motion pictures. “The stars treated you like a regular guy. It was an experience that no one can take away from me. You were treated like an equal to all of the stars, and that’s what I appreciated the most.”

Groce currently lives in his hometown of San Bernardino where he works in a juvenile hall. He’s married now with two children. Life in San Bernardino isn’t easy, though. The city experienced its 24th homicide of 2016 on April 25.

Statistics like this makes Groce uneasy. It also motivates him. He wants to be a role model for his kids on the importance of a college degree.

“I come from San Bernardino,” Groce said. “I don’t know if you know anything about San Bernardino, but it’s not a good place right now as far as crime. I want to make change and I have two sons that I’m trying to lead by example.”

May 7th will be a glorious day for the Groce family. His wife, Wynsha, son Damien Jr., and his mother, Sandra Robertson, will all make the trek to Ames, Iowa for graduation weekend.

Dad will get to reminisce with his family about his glory days on the gridiron and see the wonderful new facilities Iowa State has to offer.

Groce will leave Ames with more than memories, however. He will return home with a diploma from Iowa State University. He could’ve transferred his college credits to another college, but that’s not how Groce wanted his journey to end.

“My mom instilled that in me a long time ago,” Groce said. “Once you start something, no matter what, you got to finish it. I took that to heart all the way. I could have went to a local college to get my degree. But when I was at Iowa State, that university showed me so much love. It’s only right to go back and finish this.”

Groce will now get to finish where he started…….at Iowa State University.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Tinsley Reminisces About His Cyclone Career

Tinsley, Jamaal4

When Brooklyn, N.Y., native Jamaal Tinsley arrived on the Iowa State campus in the fall of 1999, expectations for the Iowa State men’s basketball program were at an all-time low. So-called experts and college basketball prognosticators had unanimously picked the Cyclones to finish in the Big 12 basement.

At the time, head coach Larry Eustachy was entering his second season at the helm and Iowa State was looking to rebound after a 15-15 campaign in 1998-99.

Eustachy had brought in Tinsley from Mount San Jacinto Community College to assume point guard duties for 1999-2000. Although he was a two-time All-California Community College selection, the preseason pollsters were picking against him and the rest of the unknown Cyclones. However, by the time he was set to leave Ames in the spring of 2001, there wasn’t a basketball coach, writer or analyst who hadn’t heard of Tinsley and his exploits as a Cyclone.

Tinsley was truly a basketball magician and consummate point guard who looked to find the open man before scoring. Tinsley’s uncanny ballhandling and passing abilities broke down opposing defenses and made on-ball defenders literally fall down trying to stop him. During his two seasons as Iowa State’s floor general, Tinsley was the catalyst for the two most successful teams in ISU history. Whether finding an open man for an easy dunk or juking a defender and taking it to the rim himself, Tinsley always came through in the clutch.

He earned personal acclaim for his outstanding play. He was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2000 and earned Big 12 Player of the Year accolades in 2001. He was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and a first-team All-American in 2001.

But perhaps Tinsley’s biggest and most important legacy as a Cyclone was his impact on winning. In his two years in Ames, the Cyclones won back-to-back Big 12 regular-season titles, claimed a Big 12 tournament championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in the modern era.

He was 57-11 as ISU’s starting point guard, including an unblemished 34-0 record in Hilton Coliseum.

It’s been 15 years since Tinsley last dribbled a basketball in Hilton Coliseum, but he will be back. The Cyclone legend is among eight former Cyclone greats being inducted into the 2016 Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 23.

Cyclones.com had the chance to talk with Tinsley on his memories of Iowa State.

After spending two seasons in the California Community College system, Tinsley had quietly slid under the national radar in regards of the national recruiting circles. Tinsley had become a New York playground legend while competing at the famed Rucker Park in his high school days. He earned the moniker “The Abuser” for his playground exploits, joining the likes of Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving who honed their skills on the famous court. Tinsley would be the first to admit he didn’t enjoy school and eventually dropped out of high school all but ending his chance for collegiate glory. A persistent mentor convinced him he needed to get his GED. He did, allowing him to be eligible to compete at Mount San Jacinto Community College. Word started to spread about this player with a ridiculous handle and court vision tucked away in the mountains of Southern California. Eustachy and assistant coach Steve Barnes were both California natives and had a ton of contacts in the area, including the head coach at MSJCC, John Chambers. Chambers called Eustachy and told him, “I’ve got the best point guard I’ve seen in 20 years.” Eustachy listened and brought him in on a visit. Visiting Ames for the first time, Tinsley witnessed the Cyclones get destroyed at home to Missouri, 77-61 on national television. He saw a coach light up his team at halftime and he saw a team in dire need of a point guard. He made his decision before he left town. He was going to be a Cyclone.

From all indications it seemed like you knew Iowa State was the place for you when you came on your visit to Ames. What was your first visit to Ames like?

JT: I had five schools in mind (UNLV, TCU and Clemson were other potential landing spots). Iowa State was my last visit, and I wanted to start from the bottom. I knew the situation they were in and I had heard about the atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum before I arrived on campus. I remember Iowa State was playing Missouri and they got blown out, but I just felt like I was already a part of the team. I called my mom, rest in peace, that I was going to choose Iowa State. I didn’t take another visit after that.

As Tinsley was about to enter his first season in a Cyclone uniform, tales were being told about this player with a Marques Haynes-like handle. Cyclone legend Gary Thompson witnessed a preseason practice and couldn’t believe his eyes. He could do things with the basketball that he had never seen in his 40 years covering the game. Eustachy noted, “I’ve seen him do some unbelievable things. Some of the things he tries, if he tried them 1,000 times, he’d complete about 130. The other 870 would hit the ref in the head. But, you can’t take away his creativity and his love for the game. It’s what makes him so good.” Unlike other players, Tinsley didn’t mind a small space between him and his defender. In fact, he thrived on players bodying him up where he could use his strength, hand-eye coordination and ballhandling to get around you. Perhaps former Missouri star Kareem Rush said it best when he made this comment after one of his battles against Tinsley, “He doesn’t beat you so much with his quickness but rather his ballhandling. The things he does with the ball in his hands are amazing. You really can’t prepare for some of his passes.”

You are remembered for your outstanding ballhandling and passing skills. How did you develop that skill and perfect it through the years?

JT: It started at (P.S.) 305 and learning to play at the public schools in Brooklyn. You play in countless neighborhood games and you learn to survive. As I got older, I always kept on dribbling the ball, just trying new stuff in games and in practice. The more I got comfortable, the more I just kept doing it in games. I always felt like I was always able to penetrate and get around my defender. Having that basketball skill with the ball, I had an advantage on people. Sometimes it took time for players to get used to my style, but as you play basketball, players will adapt. Guys will either watch the game or watch you. I was fortunate enough to play with certain guys that were able to do both. Sometimes I had turnovers, but most of the time I was able to make a play.

Tinsley didn’t have to be the star of the 1999-2000 team, because the Cyclones already had one in Marcus Fizer. Fizer was coming off a season where he was named First Team All-Big 12 and was a budding All-American. Fizer played his first two seasons at Iowa State without a true point guard and Tinsley was the right fit for Fizer’s play in the post. It was a perfect match.

Your first season you had an All-American in Marcus Fizer as a teammate. What was it like to play with a forward of his caliber?

JT: I figured out how good he was right away. I knew what he was capable of doing, and I knew what I could bring to the table. I always felt like I could get the ball to anybody on the court, at any position on the court. I just tried to pick spots to get him easy shots. And I told him we could make each other’s jobs easier by just working together.

It took the Cyclones a little while to gain steam with Tinsley manning the controls in his first season at Iowa State. A hiccup at Drake raised many doubts early, but the Cyclones were 12-2 heading into Big 12 Conference play. Inside the huddle the team know this could be an outstanding and special season.

When did you get the sense that the 1999-2000 Cyclone squad was a special team?

JT: It was just a learning process. For me, being in a real structured environment, playing for a demanding coach, a great coach, like Larry Eustachy, was a change. We were focused on playing as a team and knowing that eventually things would turn around. We knew that there would be some ups and downs, and we played through it. Some days were better than others, but as long as we competed on the defensive end, we were going to give ourselves a chance to win ball games. That’s what we relied on.

In your first Big 12 Conference game (Missouri) you tallied just the second triple-double in school history and the first by a Big 12 player against a conference foe. What do you remember about that game?

JT: I just remember being in the atmosphere of hearing 15,000 fans screaming and making noise. I always thrived off of that. The more I hear people make noise, the more fun it would be for me and I could be more comfortable and show my talent.

Everything started to click in Big 12 play. The Cyclones were virtually unstoppable, losing only twice, both in overtime games on the road. Players were starting to get used to Tinsley’s style and were prepared for a swift pass at any moment. To sum up the “Tinsley effect” on the 1999-2000 team all you need to do is peruse the field goal percentages of Cyclone players prior to Tinsley’s arrival. For example, Fizer shot 46.1 percent from the field before teaming with Tinsley and shot 58.2 percent with Tinsley feeding him in the post. A better example is Stevie Johnson. Johnson was a 46.6 percent shooter in his first three years as a Cyclone. He then led the Big 12 in field goal percentage as a senior at 66.3 percent behind a plethora of passes from Tinsley which led to easy dunks and lay-ins. Great point guards make great post players, as Tinsley broke ISU’s school record for assists in a season with 244, a record he still owns.

How much pride did you take in setting your teammates up for easy baskets?

JT: As a point guard, as a real point guard, you can’t just credit yourself, you got to credit the other guys who get in good position for you and run the floor for you. And as a true point guard, that’s your job to make other people better and get them in the right position. They also have to be willing to run up and down the court. I had a bunch of guys that ran the court like you are supposed to. It made everyone’s jobs easier.


Jamaal Tinsley still owns ISU single-season records in assists (244) and steals (98).


Winning the Big 12 regular-season and conference titles were huge accomplishments. Looking back, how special was that for you?

JT: It meant a lot because when I first got there, no one was really talking about us. They had us picked low or last, if I’m not mistaken, and as a player that motivates you. We knew how hard we practiced and what we were capable of doing as a team, but nobody else knew. So, we always liked to be the underdog, and as we got better, people started to realize that we were a good team. Playing in Hilton was awesome. I really miss those days. Sometimes I’ll watch games now and it will remind me how great those years were at Iowa State. There’s (Hilton Coliseum) nothing like it.


Jamaal Tinsley cuts down part of the net at the Hilton Coliseum Big 12 Championship celebration in 2000.

After helping ISU win its first conference regular-season title in 55 years and its second post-season conference tournament crown in school history, Tinsley and the Cyclones were ready for the NCAA Tournament. Now ranked in the nation’s top-10 for the first time, ISU was a dark horse pick to go far in the tournament. Fizer earned All-America honors and was the Big 12 Player of the Year. Tinsley was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, National Newcomer of the Year (Basketball Times) and joined Fizer on the Big 12’s first-team all-conference squad. Tinsley, who also broke the school record for steals in a season with 98, was now about to showcase his skills on a grander scale. He opened NCAA Tournament play with a then-career-high 26 points vs. Central Connecticut State. After another solid performance in a win over Auburn, The Cyclones moved on to the Sweet Sixteen to face perennial power UCLA. Facing off against some of his old AAU foes, Tinsley put on a clinic, helping the Cyclones demolish the Bruins, 80-56 in one of the greatest single-game performances by a Cyclone in NCAA Tournament history. Tinsley fell one rebound shy of a triple-double with 14 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. On to the Elite Eight and top-seeded Michigan State.

Many Cyclone fans remember the UCLA game. You were phenomenal with a near triple-double and there was a lot of talk before and during the game between the teams. What are your memories from that game?

JT: As a player from New York like myself, I always had a chip on my shoulder. And coming to a school like Iowa State, that may not be considered a top program and going against a blue-blood program, I was motivated even more. We heard some things they were saying, but we knew we could beat them. We just had to do what we do best on the defensive end. On all of the talking, I grew up like that. Guys talking smack, that played right into what we wanted. So at the end of the day, I knew we had an advantage on them.


Jamaal Tinsley drives on UCLA’s Earl Watson in the 2000 Sweet Sixteen. Tinsley had 14 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in Iowa State’s 80-56 victory.

With a trip to the Final Four at stake, Tinsley poured in 18 points against No. 2 Michigan State. ISU held a 59-52 lead with 5:49 remaining in the game, but a couple of controversial calls down the stretch allowed the Spartans to rally and derail ISU’s magical season. Tinsley was now the talk of the nation with an outstanding post-season run where he averaged 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 2.75 steals and 1.3 blocks in four NCAA Tournament games. As the ringleader of ISU’s school-record 32 wins, Tinsley now had an important decision to make. Should he turn pro and make himself eligible for the NBA Draft, or stay in school and further improve his game?

How close were you to turning pro after your junior season and what was your decision in returning?

JT: I knew I was coming back. I never even thought about it. It was so different for me not playing high school basketball. I got a little taste in junior college, and I liked that. Now I am at an even better environment at Iowa State, so I didn’t want to leave. I never thought about leaving after my junior year.

Tinsley stayed busy in the summer prior to his senior year. He was the leader of the Big 12 All-Star team which went 5-1 in its six-game tour of Austria. He averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 assists. At the beginning of the school year, Tinsley was named to the United States Select team, a squad of collegiate all-stars formed to play exhibition games against the United States Olympic team as it prepared for the 2000 Olympics. He gained even more experience by going head-to-head against established NBA stars like Jason Kidd, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton and Ray Allen.

How much did your experience playing with the U.S. Select team help you prior to your senior season?

JT: It helped a lot, but unfortunately I was hurt and had put on a little weight, so I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted to. But just being there and learning, and playing against guys like Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, I learned a lot.

2000s mens select team009

Team photo of the United States Basketball 2000 Select Team.

Despite Tinsley’s return, expectations were again moderate for the Cyclones in 2000-01. ISU lost All-American Fizer to the NBA and standouts Johnson and Michael Nurse to graduation. ISU did return Kantrail Horton, Paul Shirley and Martin Rancik, but the thought of Iowa State repeating as Big 12 champions was outlandish to say the least. Never count out Jamaal Tinsley, who was usually the best player on the court when the ball tipped.

Not many people thought you could repeat as Big 12 champions in your senior year. How satisfying was it to prove everybody wrong once again?

JT: I got to give it up to our coaching staff. Playing for a guy like Coach Eustachy, who demands so much out of you, was just a blessing. No matter if you’re the 12th-man or the best player, he would ride everybody the same. That’s what I respected about him as a man and as a coach, because not once did he treat anybody differently on the court. He always treated everybody the same. We knew we had a chance to repeat, even though we lost one of our key players in Marcus. We knew that we were tough-minded. And being a tough-minded team, we knew we had an advantage over teams that were weak. We took that into consideration and went out there and gave it our all.

The Cyclones stumbled out of the gates at the beginning of the 2001 Big 12 slate. ISU stood at 2-2 with a pivotal road game at Nebraska. ISU’s two losses took extra periods, including a four-overtime thriller at Missouri where ISU ran out of gas after Tinsley fouled out. The Nebraska game looked bleak. Despite 23 points from Tinsley, ISU trailed 59-58 with :00.8 seconds remaining, but still had one last chance with an in-bound play from the sideline. Eustachy drew up a play, but Tinsley (the in-bounder) had a hunch he could hit Martin Rancik, who was stationed at the free-throw line, cutting to the basket for a tip-in. It worked, as Tinsley delivered a perfect pass to Rancik who laid the ball in before the buzzer sounded to give ISU a critical 60-59 victory.

One of the biggest games of your senior season was the win over Nebraska on the road. Can you talk us through final play where you hit Rancik for the lay-in?

JT: You know what’s funny? I just watched that game the other day on YouTube. Well first off, I went to the hole and got my shot blocked out of bounds with under a second left. Coach (Eustachy) drew up a play for Jake Sullivan to come off a pick, but I knew that they were going to hedge out on him. I told Martin to slip off the screen. He slipped it, got wide open, and I made the play. I think that turned the season around for us. That made us really start believing. We were struggling knowing that we didn’t have a guy like Marcus Fizer to rely on. That game showed that we could go through adversity and bounce back from it.

One of the many reasons Tinsley is so endeared by Cyclone fans was his fearlessness, especially going against the top programs in the nation. He never backed down against any opponent, including Kansas, a team he never lost to with a 4-0 record. Not many players in college basketball can brag about a perfect record against the Jayhawks, including two wins in Allen Fieldhouse. Heading into his final game at Allen Fieldhouse in his senior season, a reporter asked Tinsley about the toughest places to play in the league. His answer was this; “Nowhere for me. The crowd doesn’t bother me. I remember watching KU games on TV and it seemed like it was hard to play there. But once I got there, it was just another gym.”

You are remembered for one of the most famous quotes in school history when you referred to Allen Fieldhouse as “just another gym.” You never lost to Kansas, but what was your mindset when you made that statement?

JT: Well, where I was brought up playing basketball, if you got scared, you got hurt. Guys played for their lives on the courts. Games went to 15 and would sometimes last about two hours. Now, in college, basketball was fun. Basketball is fun no matter what, but going into a college atmosphere like Kansas and hearing all of the riff-raff, it was like a piece of cake compared to the streets of Brooklyn. No offense to Kansas, but it was my background that had a lot to do with my statement.

The Kansas game in Hilton Coliseum in 2001 (Feb. 17) was a perfect example of Tinsley’s impact on a game. ISU was 9-2 in league play and the winner would likely seize control of the conference race. The stage was set with a nationally-televised CBS audience and Tinsley didn’t disappoint. Despite going 1-for-13 from the field, he dominated the game in every other facet. He had 11 assists, six steals and only turned the ball over twice to lead the Cyclones to a key 79-71 victory. Some of Tinsley’s passes in the victory were astonishing, including a behind-the-back wraparound to Jake Sullivan, who buried a 3-pointer and sent the Hilton Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.

The win over Kansas at home in your senior season gave Iowa State the upper hand in the conference race. What were some of your memories from that game?

JT: Well first of all, I never let my offense dictate my game. If I’m having a bad shooting game, I could always do something else to help my team win. And as a point guard, sometimes you go through that. As a true point guard, you got to control the game and make sure you get a good shot every time down the floor. You have to always think about managing the clock and do what you do best in controlling the situations to make sure that your best shooters get good shots. I felt I did that against Kansas that day.

Iowa State had its sights on a second-straight Big 12 Championship with two home games left on the schedule. After beating Texas Tech, ISU had Nebraska in the season-finale to clinch the outright title. The game was a slugfest, as the Cyclones held a slim 72-69 lead with 3:20 remaining. It was now Tinsley time. The senior literally willed his team to victory by scoring 10 of ISU’s final 14 points to help the Cyclones win and secure their second-straight Big 12 crown. Tinsley ended the game with a career-high 29 points. It was time to celebrate, this time in front of the sold-out Hilton Coliseum crowd.

Iowa State clinched its second regular-season title with a win over Nebraska in the home-finale. You had 29 points and willed the team to victory. Nobody thought you could repeat. What do you remember about that game?

JT: Like I said before, I have to tip my hat to my coaching staff because they never allowed us to let up. The coaching staff always wanted us to put the foot on the gas. If you’re not playing good, Coach is going to sub you out. It’s not about making shots, it’s about playing hard. So knowing that, you didn’t have anything to lose because you should play the game the right way. It felt good to do something we hadn’t done in a while. To win back-to-back titles, that meant a lot to me and it still does.

Tinsley, Jamaal2001champs2

Jamaal Tinsley and the Cyclones celebrate winning their second-straight Big 12 Championship in 2001.


Although Tinsley and the Cyclones made an early exit from both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments that season, the 25 wins was the second-best single-season total in school history at the time. Tinsley earned First-Team All-America honors, was voted Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and was named Associated Press’ Runner-Up National Player of the Year. Tinsley led the team in scoring (14.3), assists (6.0), steals (2.5) and blocks (0.6). With his individual stats and honors, Tinsley will always be considered one of the greatest players in school history. However, his legacy at Iowa State will always be solidified by being a winner. He helped ISU forge its longest homecourt winning streak in school history (it ended at 39 games in the fourth home game of the 2001-02 season) and he was a two-time Big 12 champion.

Perhaps your biggest legacy is going 34-0 at home in your two years at Hilton Coliseum. Has it ever dawned on you how impressive that record is?

JT: Well, that’s home (Hilton Coliseum). You always want to protect your home. You never want to let games get away from you at home. You always want to protect the cookie jar. We were fortunate enough to win a lot of games at home, and that gave us a good opportunity to go out and win a lot of games on the road, too.

Tinsley was the 27th pick of the NBA Draft and recently retired from a successful 11-year career in the NBA where he scored 4,652 points and dished out 3,330 assists.

You recently retired from the NBA. What are some of your future plans?

JT: Actually, I’m trying to get into coaching right now. I am playing in another league with former NBA players (The Basketball Tournament). I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m at 175 pounds for the first time since I was at Iowa State, so I’m in great shape. I have that going, but I want to get into coaching, though.

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz

Jamaal Tinsley as a member of the Utah Jazz in 2012.

Do you still have a chance to follow Iowa State?

JT: Yeah, I check the scores out. I follow Iowa State on Twitter and Instagram and all of that stuff.

What does it mean to you be inducted into the Iowa State hall of fame.

JT: It means a lot to be inducted into the hall of fame. That’s very special for me knowing where I came from and how hard it was for me to get there. It’s just a blessing. I’m very excited to be back in Ames. I have a lot of good memories Iowa State, moments I will always treasure.

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Tonight, the Iowa State women’s basketball team will host the Texas Tech Lady Raiders in the annual Play 4Kay game. This year’s game carries a little more meaning than ones in the past, as the Cyclones will use the game, in part, as a tribute to Melissa Grossman, the sister of junior Lexi Albrecht, who lost her battle to cancer in late December.

The team will wear their usual “United We Fight” T-shirts for warmups before the game, but this year’s shirt holds a special message on the back. At the request of several team members, the hashtag “#FightLikeMel” was printed on the back of the T-shirt to honor Grossman’s fight against cancer.

“If you knew Melissa, you knew that she was the biggest fighter and she took every obstacle head on with a smile on her face and never complained,” Albrecht said. “If she was given lemons, she made lemonade.”

Albrecht missed Iowa State’s game at Kansas State on Dec. 30 following the death of her sister, but the Cyclones earned a hard-fought road win to honor the Albrecht family and Grossman.

The following day the entire team and coaching staff piled into vehicles and drove to Carroll, Iowa to support Albrecht and her family at Grossman’s funeral.

Grossman was a fixture at Iowa State games, even after her cancer diagnosis. She would hardly miss an opportunity to cheer on the Cyclones and her sister.

Saturday was the first time Albrecht learned about the hashtag honoring her sister and she was touched that the team chose to adorn the Play 4Kay shirts with her sister’s hashtag.

“Cancer and breast cancer has affected my family and having these ‘Pink Out’ games to promote and bring about awareness to breast cancer is really important to me and my family,” Albrecht said. “It will hopefully save other people’s lives and prevent someone losing a family member to breast cancer.”

To read more about Albrecht’s story check out the articles below from the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.

Ames Tribune: Sibling strength – Albrecht trying to move on after sister’s death

Des Moines Register: ISU’s Lexi Albrecht playing with heavy heart after sister’s death

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Daniels Will Aid Secondary

Thadd Daniels is enrolled at Iowa State and will practice with the Cyclones in the spring.

Thadd Daniels is enrolled at Iowa State and will practice with the Cyclones in the spring.

AMES, Iowa – A comment from Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell at his signing day press conference stood out among the rest.

When asked about his recruiting philosophy in regards to the defensive side of the ball, Campbell simply said, “If you know me, I’m never going to turn down a great defensive back or great defensive lineman.”

Campbell held true to his word, adding 12 defensive backs/defensive linemen in a recruiting class which was ranked No. 46 nationally by Scout, the highest-rated Cyclone class in Scout history.

Two defensive backs in this class have already enrolled in school and are currently prepping for spring drills in Thadd Daniels and D’Andre Payne.

Both have a chance to make an immediate impact, especially Daniels, who will be a redshirt junior in 2016 after a stellar career at Cerritos Community College in California.

Daniels, who hails from Compton, Calif., was ranked as the fifth-best junior college safety by 247Sports. His suitors included Brigham Young, Purdue, Illinois and Utah. A change in scenery was one of the reasons he chose Iowa State.

“I’d never been out here (in Iowa) until I came on my visit,” Daniels said. “I really enjoyed it. I felt like it was a new experience to get away from all of the stuff that I’ve been through and where I came from.”

Some of the ‘stuff’ Daniels was referring to was a life-altering event which occurred in his second season at Cerritos. He had just ended a solid freshman season where he posted 26 tackles and eight pass breakups. An injury was going to force him to take a redshirt in 2014, but even worse news occurred. His father, Rickie, passed away.

Daniels knew he had to mature quickly. He had to be there for his mother, Angela, and his siblings to help with the coping process.

“He is very mature beyond his years,” Campbell said. “When his father passed away he took over many family responsibilities. He was a father figure for his brothers and sisters, and he made sure he was around to help his mother.”

Daniels only did what his mother taught him to do.

“It was in my third semester in junior college when my father died,” Daniels said. “I adapted pretty well. My mom raised me right, and she always told me to do the right thing. That’s all I was doing. I was making sure I needed to take care of the people who were important to me. I just had to make it happen.”

His injury and redshirt season afforded Daniels time to reflect and be with his family. He came back for his final year of junior college football even more focused, racking up 29 tackles and a team-leading eight pass breakups to help his team claim the National Division Northern Conference title with an 8-3 record.

Division I recruiters liked his stats, but his versatility and toughness is what really popped out on film. He can play either the safety or cornerback position and he competes with a chip on his shoulder.

“To me, if you come out physical and hit them in the mouth, right then and there, you have their attention,” Daniels said about his style of play. “I want the opponent to be thinking about it for the rest of the game.”

Campbell wants his defensive backs to be quarterbacks on the field. They must possess outstanding communications skills, and it’s something he noticed right away with Daniels.

“Recruiting in the secondary is a lot like recruiting a quarterback,” Campbell said. “Those guys have to be special. They have to be communicators, and they have to do a great job getting guys lined up and have passion. Thadd has that.”

Spring practice is officially less than a month away and Daniels knows the importance of being a mid-year enrollee. He can get a head start on his career at Iowa State and build a rapport with his teammates and coaches, something he has already accomplished in his first month in Ames.

“I get along with Coach Campbell very well,” Daniels said. “That’s part of the reason I came here. He’s a real good guy. He’s one of the youngest coaches, and he kept it honest with me throughout the recruiting process. I’ve just had to get familiar with the campus a little bit. Other than that, everything is going fine with me.”

The kid from Los Angeles still closely monitors on all of the happenings in the City of Angels. A die-hard Lakers fan, he’s sad to watch Kobe Bryant on his farewell tour.

L.A. will always be home, but Daniels has already felt a warm welcoming from the Ames community.

“It’s a major difference from L.A. to Ames,” Daniels said. “Where I come from, a lot of people won’t even talk to you. Once I got here, everybody smiles, and everybody introduces themselves. It was something that I had never seen before. It amazed me and it felt like something I liked to be around.”

Cyclone Nation likes having you around, too, Thadd.



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