There is being clutch.
And then there is being CLUTCH.
Dependable in crucial situations according to Dictionary.com.
Naz Long according to Cyclone Nation.
It wasn’t the first time as a basketball player that Long had hit big shots. While playing in Peach Jam at the 17U level, Long hit a game-winner against a Marcus Paige led All-Iowa Attack team.
He also sent a game against Georges Niang’s BABC squad to a second overtime with a floater over his future college roommate. Long is quick to point out that Niang’s squad won in the second overtime, so he owns the bragging rights.
For Long, who came to Iowa State as a combo guard but played primarily at the point his first season in Ames, it’s about making plays and doing whatever he is asked to do.
“Really, I feel like I can play either spot. I’m comfortable with that,” Long said. “I’m a junior, I know the offense and the defense and anything Coach Hoiberg wants me to do I feel like I can do that.”
That’s Naz Long in a nutshell.
A positive teammate, and now, a leader.
“I like to consider myself a leader because I am a third-year guy. Coming into my junior year, I can say that I’ve been through the ups-and-downs with this team. From the Ohio State loss to the Big 12 Tournament title, I’ve seen the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in basketball. I definitely think I can help the freshmen and first-year guys.”
Long is one of 10 children. He learned early how to adapt, how to get along. It has helped him in the team setting.
“I definitely think having a family like that is like being on a team,” Long said. “Being the middle child, I feel like I have a connection with all of my siblings. I can relate to everyone because I’m not too young or too old. On all the teams that I have been on I’ve been able to relate to a lot of people. It is a knack I have and coming from a big family probably helps with that.”
He lives on a number of simple beliefs, including the power of positivity.
How does one hit his last three 3-pointers, including the game-tying one with 50 seconds left in the third round of the NCAA Tournament after starting 1-for-5? By being positive, that’s how.
“Even when things aren’t going great on the court, you’ve got to find a way to be positive. I play with a lot of emotion, but I don’t want people to see me down.”
Long will surely be counted on even more this season. He knows he won’t sneak up on anyone.
He’s prepared himself diligently, hoisting more than 700 makes per day this summer. He’ll ride the values taught to him by his parents in Mississauga, Ontario.
He’ll lead. He’ll be positive. He’s ready.