Iowa State features a lineup in which all five starters average scoring is in double figures.
But ask Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg who his most important player is, and he’ll say this.
“I think our bench, you can say our whole bench,” he said Wednesday after Iowa State, the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, finished a 40-minute practice in the Sprint Center.
The bench is led by 6-foot-6 senior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, a former starter who is averaging 11.4 points per game, 6-6 junior Abdel Nader and 6-4 sophomore Matt Thomas.
Dejean-Jones did a lot of damage in 24 minutes of the Cyclones’ last game, an 89-76 win at TCU.
“He took three shots and ended up with 15 points because of his aggressiveness attacking the rim,” Hoiberg said.
Dejean-Jones was three for three from the floor, including two three-pointers, and was seven for 10 from the free-throw line.
Nader scored 16 points in 21 minutes in the Cyclones’ 79-59 win over then-No. 21 West Virginia on Feb. 14. Thomas scored 17 in 21 minutes in an 85-77 win at Texas on Feb. 21.
“All three of those guys I think have very important roles to come off and try to keep momentum,” Hoiberg said. “If you get off to a little of a slow start, they’ve got to go in and pick up the energy and get us going.”