When Steve Prohm landed the Iowa State job two Junes ago, everyone assumed he’d probably win in his first year because he’s a quality coach who was inheriting a preseason top-10 team loaded with talented veterans.
But what about after that?
Would he be able to recruit well enough to keep ISU going after losing three of his top five scorers from what would be his first Cyclones team — namely Georges Niang, Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay? Frankly, it was a reasonable question to ask, and here’s why: Prohm had literally never recruited at the high-major level before.
That’s rarer than you probably realize.
Because, typically, a man who becomes a high-major head coach has some high-major experience in his background. For instance, Shaka Smart was an assistant at Clemson and Florida before he became Texas’ head coach just like Brad Underwood was an assistant at Kansas State and South Carolina before he became Oklahoma State’s head coach. So on and so forth. That’s usually how it goes.
But Prohm’s professional background is different. He spent 13 seasons as an assistant at Centenary, Southeastern Louisiana, Tulane and Murray State before becoming Murray State’s head coach in 2011. Then, after going 104-29 in four seasons at the Ohio Valley Conference school, Prohm left for Iowa State, where he replaced the iconic Fred Hoiberg.
Big shoes to fill. Lots of scholarships, too.
“We have six scholarships to fill,” Prohm told me Wednesday night, and here’s the nice news for Iowa State fans: so far, so good.
Prohm — and his staff of William Smalls, Daniyal Robinson and Neill Berry — secured their third commitment from the Class of 2017 earlier this week when Darius McNeill, a three-star guard from Texas, pledged to Iowa State. He joined four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star forward KeyShawn Feazell as prospects currently on board to officially sign with the Cyclones in November.
To be clear, this is not to be confused with the class Bruce Pearl is assembling at Auburn. Or the one Mike Krzyzewski will eventually sign at Duke. I’m not trying to overstate things. But Iowa State’s class is a class that 247Sports currently ranks 18th nationally, and that’s not bad considering Hoiberg’s best class at Iowa State ranked … 37th.
(Note: In fairness, Hoiberg opted to build Iowa State through the transfer market rather than by recruiting in a traditional way. So his not-quite-so-high recruiting rankings are mostly a reflection of that.)
“It is different,” Prohm answered when I asked about the adjustment that must be made when the job now requires you to recruit at a high-major level for the first time in your career. But he added that he’s leaned on his former boss, current Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy, for advice here and there, and that, beyond that, he’s just trying to do what he’s always done, which is work hard and identify good fits.
Prohm, remember, is the man who identified Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne, lured both unheralded recruits to Murray State, then developed them into players who are in the NBA today. That’s not nothing. And the fact that four-star forward Isaiah Stokes has already scheduled an official visit to Iowa State’s campus for later this month suggests this recruiting class that’s currently ranked second in the Big 12 has a chance to get significantly better.
Bottom line, things are going well.
No, Steve Prohm had never recruited at the high-major level until last year.
But he’s doing it now.
And things are going just fine.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / So far, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm making high-major recruiting look easy