AMES (AP) — Iowa State knew it needed an instant infusion of veteran talent after its worst record in seven years.
The Cyclones are yet again leaning on a senior transfer, this time intriguing guard/forward Marial Shayok.
The 6-foot-6 Shayok, who was a starter for powerhouse Virginia two years ago, is expected to be a crucial piece for a Cyclones program coming off a painful 13-18 finish in 2017-18.
Iowa State has been at the forefront in integrating short-term veteran solutions like Will Clyburn, DeAndre Kane and Bryce Dejean-Jones into its roster in recent years. In signing Shayok, coach Steve Prohm emulated the formula Fred Hoiberg deployed to help make the Cyclones a consistent Big 12 contender.
“I just play to my strengths here,” said Shayok, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“I bring a good, versatile offensive game. I plan to shoot the ball and create for others and get to the rim. Defensively, I just want to bring the experience I had at Virginia here and lead on defense.”
Shayok was an important piece for Virginia, averaging 8.9 points per game for a team that went 23-11 two years ago.
The fact that Shayok’s 8.9 points per game ranked second-best for the defensive-minded Cavaliers illustrates why he left Charlottesville. He chose to finish his career at Iowa State because of the Cyclones’ up-tempo offense and because there’d be a chance to contribute immediately.
For Iowa State, Shayok provides the postseason experience the rest of the roster lacks after reaching three straight NCAA tournaments at Virginia.
The Cyclones’ leading scorer a year ago was freshman Lindell Wigginton, and the players who played crucial roles in Prohm’s first two postseason teams have all graduated.
Shayok’s years playing defense for a coach who values it as much as Virginia’s Tony Bennett’s also should be a boost to the only Big 12 team to allow more points than they scored a year ago.
“He’s probably been a part of the most winning of any of the players that has been here,” Prohm said. “He’s been part of an Elite Eight. He’s won ACC championships.”
It’s unclear how Prohm will use Shayok, because the Cyclones actually have an abundance of talent after leaning on as few as six players at times last season because of injuries. Shayok likely will play some small forward with Nick Weiler-Babb focused more on playing guard, and Shayok also might swing over to power forward if the Cyclones go to a smaller lineup.
“He brings energy. He plays defense. He makes shots,” Wigginton said. “He has brought a lot to the team that we really needed.