When it comes to frontcourts in college basketball, Iowa State returns one of the best. Senior Melvin Ejim (11.3 points) and sophomore Georges Niang (12.1 ppg) complement each other well. They can get up and down the court swiftly enough to work well in head coach Fred Hoiberg’s offense. They can knock down 3-pointers when needed (both shot over 34 percent from behind the arc last season).
Both players also bring energy to the Cyclones on the court. Ejim is quieter by nature and brings energy by chasing down loose balls in the corner while Niang is more likely to wear his emotions on his sleeve.
The duo also stack up statistically against anyone in the nation. They are one of just two tandems in the Big 12 that return after averaging double figure scoring, joining Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson.
Taking it even further, Ejim and Niang make Iowa State one of just six schools in a “power conference” (Big 12, American Athletic Conference, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) to return two frontcourt players that posted double digit averages. They also shoot the trifecta better than any of the other tandems.
Not enough for you? Iowa State is the only school among those that played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
It is also clear that they love to play together.
“Whenever you can play next to someone that plays as hard or harder than you like Melvin does it makes you better,” Niang said. “Melvin is a workhorse. Playing with him is a blessing and I’m not sure if I will ever play with someone who rebounds the ball like he does.”
Ejim equally enjoys his running mate.
“Playing with Georges is great because he is someone that knows what I am thinking,” Ejim said. “He does a lot of the right things on the basketball court. We both know what each other wants to do and we understand the game. We kind of feed off each other.”
It is a luxury that will certainly help Fred Hoiberg as ISU replaces four of its top six scorers from last season.
Notable Returning Frontcourts
Iowa State: Melvin Ejim (11.3 ppg) & Georges Niang (12.1) – 62 three-pointers (37.3 percent)
Baylor: Isaiah Austin (13.0) & Cory Jefferson (13.3) – 33 three-pointers (33.3 percent)
Houston: Danuel House (12.4) & TeShawn Thomas (16.9) – 31 three-pointers (29.8 percent)
LSU: Shavon Coleman (10.5) & Johnny O’Bryant (13.6) – 15 three-pointers (27.2 percent)
Providence: Kadeem Batts (14.8) & LaDontae Henton (13.0) – 31 three-pointers (25.2 percent)
Stanford: Josh Huestis (10.5) & Dwight Powell (14.9) – 41 three-pointers (37.2 percent)
Iowa State was 7-1 last season when Ejim and Niang combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds.