In June of 2014, the Iowa State men’s basketball team gathered at Fred Hoiberg’s house as a celebration to the past season. The team would receive their Big 12 Tournament championship rings that day, the perfect reminder to an amazing three-day stretch.
As the names were called off, Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader sat quietly in the background. They applauded as each teammate rose to get their newest prized possessions. McKay and Nader’s name wouldn’t be called that day. NCAA rules prevented them from receiving the awards because of their status as transfer student-athletes, but the duo didn’t want them anyway. They wanted to earn their rings.
And earn them they did.
McKay averaged 9.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and a block in ISU’s three wins in Kansas City in 2015, while Nader came off the bench to average 8.3 points, which included 13 points in the championship game against Kansas.
The Cyclones won the three games by a total of eight points, the smallest margin of victory for a champion in Big 12 history.
Fast forward to August 5, 2015 at Jack Trice Stadium. McKay and Nader are handed their rings by fellow senior Georges Niang as the team celebrates in the Jack Trice Club.
“Definitely was something we set out to do,” McKay said. “Abdel and I sat back last year and we saw how much fun those guys had winning it. You see how proud the school and the fans were of those guys and we wanted to keep it going and win one on our own.”
Nader noted the challenge of accomplishing the feat.
“We both set goals for ourselves and achieving those goals wasn’t easy,” Nader said. “It feels good to have this on my finger, something we both played a big role in accomplishing. Hopefully we can do it again next year.”
McKay echoed Nader’s thoughts.
“This ring is great, I want another one next season,” McKay said. “That’s the goal.”