In 2022, Iowa State men’s basketball completed a historic one-season turnaround.
The Cyclones were picked to finish tenth in the Big 12 conference by the league’s coaches, but under the leadership of first-year head coach T.J. Otzelberger, Iowa State earned 22 wins and a berth to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen.
On the court, Otzelberger’s squad was built almost entirely of new faces. A handful of freshmen and transfers would join George Conditt, Jaden Walker and Tre Jackson, the only returning players from the two-win 2021 Cyclone team.
The new-look Cyclones jumped out to a 12-0 record to begin the 2021-22 season. But quickly after Iowa State’s loss to Miami in the Sweet Sixteen, it became clear roster turnover would present a challenge for Iowa State in 2022-23.
A tough farewell
Iowa State’s freshman point guard and the team’s assist leader Tyrese Hunter announced April 18 that he would enter the transfer portal.
The Big 12 Freshman of the Year scored 11 points per game and averaged 4.9 assists while leading the Iowa State attack. Hunter’s biggest game in an Iowa State uniform kept postseason hopes alive during an upset win over LSU in the NCAA tournament. Hunter scored 23 points and shot 7 for 11 from three during that game.
Known by his Iowa State teammates as “The General,” Hunter announced May 27 that he would be playing his sophomore season for the Texas Longhorns.
In April of 2021, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native reaffirmed his commitment to Iowa State. Hunter initially committed to the Cyclones under former head coach Steve Prohm. Otzelberger, who joined Iowa State as head coach in March, made it a priority to retain Hunter — even mentioning the four-star recruit in his introductory press conference.
Tennessee, Kansas, Louisville, Gonzaga, Texas and Purdue were the sought-after point guard's top six schools, but ultimately Hunter chose to bring his talents to head coach Chris Beard and the Longhorns.
Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State’s leading scorer, will also be leaving Ames. The Penn State transfer was also new to the Iowa State lineup in 2021-22, and with one year of eligibility remaining, Brockington entered his hat into the upcoming NBA Draft.
Thank You Cyclone Nation🌪❤️💛 pic.twitter.com/lAJdRAOkRQ— Izaiah Brockington (@TheOnlyiZB) March 28, 2022
Brockington averaged 16.9 points per game during his one season in Ames, an over four-point bump from his final season with the Nittany Lions.
Iowa State also lost its most tenured member of the 2021-22 roster. George Conditt, a senior who spent four years with the program, ended his college basketball career. Conditt chose to forgo his extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cyclone lost three more pieces of the sweet sixteen roster. Jaden Walker, Tristan Enaruna and Tre Jackson utilized the transfer portal this offseason.
Enaruna will follow former Iowa State assistant coach Daniyal Robinson to Cleveland State University. Jaden Walker will continue his college basketball career at Eastern Carolina, and Tre Jackson announced he would transfer to Western Carolina University.
In total, six members of the Iowa State team left the program following the historic season. The six departing members of the Cyclone team accounted for 43 points per game during the 2021-22 season.
Tamin Lipsey, the Iowa Gatorade Player of the year, will join Iowa State as a freshman in 2022-23.
“I felt my heart tugging at me that it was time to pull the trigger,” Lipsey said in an opinion editorial published in the Des Moines Register. “Coach T.J. Otzelberger did a great job of prioritizing me and making me feel like they really wanted me.”
Lipsey was the point guard at Ames High School, where he led the Little Cyclones to a Class 4A Iowa State Championship.
Otzelberger also brings in Calendonia, Minnesota standout Eli King with his 2022 recruiting class. King was a finalist for the Mr. Basketball award in his home state.
Otzelberger used the transfer portal to bolster his lineup for his second season in Ames.
Osun Osunniyi will bring his talents to Iowa State after competing at St. Bonaventure the previous two seasons. Osunniyi is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
"We have confidence in expanding his offensive playmaking, finishing and jump shooting abilities,” Otzelberger said. “Osun is a worker, competitor and winner that will provide us with an immediate front-line impact."
Osunniyi became the second St. Bonaventure athlete to join Iowa State. Jaren Holmes, the Bonnies’ second-leading scorer, announced he would transfer to the Cyclones in early May.
Otzelberger and Iowa State also added Hason Ward from VCU, Tre King from Eastern Kentucky and Jeremiah Williams from Temple to the 2022-23 roster through the transfer portal.
Lastly, rumors were floating around about UNI's AJ Green possibly joining the Cyclones. The junior guard was caught between making the short trip to Ames to become a Cyclone alongside his father, who is an assistant coach, or going all-in on the NBA Draft. The pull of the draft was strong, and Green opted to forego his eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft.
Otzelberger was still confident in the roster strength that he put together in the offseason, with or without Green. Iowa State added five transfers and two freshmen during the offseason.
Guards Gabe Kalscheur and Caleb Grill and forwards Robert Jones and Aljaz Kunc will return to the Cyclone lineup.
Jones, Kunc and Kalscheur all received starting minutes in the 22-14 Iowa State season.
Kalscheur averaged 9.6 points per game, the third-best on the roster in the 2021-22 season and the highest of any returning Cyclone. The Iowa State shooting guard will utilize his extra year of eligibility, playing in his fifth college basketball season in 2022-23.
Grill, who is in his second stint as an Iowa State Cyclone, will be a senior, and Kunc will be another fifth-year senior for Iowa State. Kunc averaged 6.0 points per game during his first season with Iowa State.
Robert Jones, who averaged 2.9 points per game in 2021-22, will return to Ames and round out the senior class for T.J. Otzelberger in 2022-23.
Four players from the Sweet Sixteen roster will return to Iowa State for another season.