Marial Shayok has been there. He’s done that.
He’s played in NCAA Tournaments. He’s been on ACC Championship teams at Virginia.
But Shayok never really had to be a leader on those teams. He was second in scoring in his final season with the Cavaliers, but they had upperclassmen that took care of leading.
So what realization did Shayok come to during his redshirt season at Iowa State?
He noted that in addition to shooting jumpers and putting in the work, he also needed to become a leader for the Cyclones.
“I see now how important it is for me to be vocal, to be a leader,” Shayok said. “We’ve got so many new guys and I know that I need to share my experiences. It’s time for me to share the things I’ve learned over the years and give it back to the other guys.”
It’s something that head coach Steve Prohm has challenged Shayok to do.
“He’s put it on me to be a leader on this team, to be as vocal as I can,” Shayok adds. “I need to be a second voice for him so he doesn’t have to say everything. A lot of times now, I say it before he even can. I want to be another coach on the floor for us.”
If there is a consistent message among the people inside the Sukup Basketball Complex, it is how much work Shayok puts into his craft. The Ottawa, Ontario native spent the redshirt season closely alongside fellow sit-out transfer Michael Jacobson, who came to the Cyclones from Nebraska.
“Mike and I spent a lot of time together last year,” Shayok said. “When the team went on the road, it was just us spending a lot of time in the gym. We were working out, playing one-on-one and getting our shots up.”
He’s seen his game improve, both from a physical and mental standpoint.
“I think I’ve improved the consistency with my shot,” Shayok said. “I’m shooting at a really high level right now and my range has expanded. I’ve also improved my decision making. I think that developed from putting in the time and playing the point guard on the scout team. That really improved my feel for the game. I’m just really confident right now in my game.”
And he’s confident in the team he is seeing come together on a daily basis.
“We’ve got a really good chemistry on this team,” Shayok says while lacing up Nikes for another workout. “We hang out pretty much all day, every day. It’s genuine and I think it really is a starting point for what we want to accomplish.
“Now we are going to need to take that chemistry, that energy, and play together as a team. We want to play fast, play hard and be competitive every day. We’ve really got to believe in each other to get where we want to be.” “
Where they want to be is back in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
“We understand the importance of winning,” Shayok says. “And know that if we win, we can all do great things.”