AMES, Iowa – In 2016-17, when Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm needed to settle down his team he would look to Monté Morris. Or Nazareth Mitrou-Long. Or Matt Thomas. Or Deonte Burton.
The 2017-18 season will have a different feel to it for Prohm. Gone are 330 games of experience from the aforementioned players. He’ll instead look towards a court that features just 109 games of experience returning. TOTAL.
Among the players he’ll look to as leaders are senior Donovan Jackson and redshirt junior Nick Weiler-Babb, who recently attended the Athletes In Action Basketball Captains Academy in Xenia, Ohio.
The AIA Captains Academy’s purpose is to help college basketball programs grow their student-athlete leaders.
For Jackson and Weiler-Babb it was a life-changing experience.
Among the activities that the duo participated in were team-building exercises that built trust and taught the student-athletes about opening up to others. They also heard from speakers, which included author Tim Kight and college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg.
For Weiler-Babb, among the number of things that he took away was a message from Kight.
“He told us about a formula, E+R=0, which is the event plus your response equals the outcome,” Weiler-Babb said. “You just have to realize that no matter what event was thrown at you, it is your response to that situation that determines the outcome. That is something that can be used in so many different areas of your life, including on the court.”
Jackson reflected on day two of the four-day leadership camp.
“We were doing a high ropes course where you had a partner and the main key was developing a trust in your partner that he will encourage you and be there for you,” Jackson said. “I’m the senior on this team, I’m the head guy right now and the one I want them to look to for leadership. I’m trying to lead these guys and I want everybody to trust me and I’m going to trust in them.”
Jackson knows that trust can be gained if he leads by example.
“You have to have the work ethic, you have to be relentless in a lot of areas,” the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native said. “You want your guys to look up to you. If you are slacking off, they aren’t going to see you as a leader.”
Weiler-Babb also spoke of building trust with a team that includes just four returning players from last year’s NCAA Tournament and Big 12 Championship team.
“Donovan and I have talked about how we can use what we learned to help this year’s team,” said Weiler-Babb, a native of Arlington, Texas. “Maybe it is getting the guys together and opening up, letting everyone know your life story so that everything is on the table. With so many new guys, you maybe don’t really know everything about your teammates that you should at this point. If that is the case, how do you really trust them or how do they trust you? We need to build that trust if we want to achieve our goals.”
The current edition of Cyclone basketball will certainly need new leadership on the court this season, and Jackson and Weiler-Babb feel more ready than ever to steer the ship after attending the academy.
“It was a blessing that Nick and I were allowed to attend this camp,” Jackson said. “I learned a lot of important things that I can apply to not only basketball, but to my everyday life.”
Weiler-Babb echoed his thoughts, even if there was a time he was hesitant about attending.
“I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really want to go to the event at first,” Weiler-Babb said. “We arrived there and we threw ourselves into it and wanted to get the most out of it that we could. You start to realize how you can take this and use it for your team and in your life. I’m grateful to the administration for allowing us to do this. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We know that if we want to have a good season, Donovan and I need to take some of the things we learned and put them into play to build this team together.”