By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – DeAndre Kane needed a place to play. Iowa State needed a point guard, preferably one with Division I experience. Ames, Iowa, the place for college basketball second chance, turned out to be perfect.
After the Cyclones clinched the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship with Saturday night’s 74-65 victory over Baylor, Kane stood on a platform near the school pep band and celebrated with cardinal and gold fans. He handed one a championship placard.
Not exactly what Kane had envisioned, but it felt like home. He was named Most Outstanding Player after scoring 17 points, with seven rebounds and seven assists on the Bears. In three tournament games, he averaged 16 points and five assists. His MOP award was added to his All-Big 12 first team selection as well as newcomer of the year.
“When coach (Fred Hoiberg) gave me a second chance, he brought me in, sat me down, and he believed in me and these guys believed in me,” Kane said.
Before arriving in Ames, Kane sent sophomore Georges Niang a text: “I just want is to win.”
He’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever played with,” said Niang, who was selected to the all-tournament team along with Kane and Melvin Ejim. “To have him on your side is a blessing. He’s always on you to rebound and make free throws, but he’s always got your back. When that’s your point guard, your leader, you’re bound to be a special team. He refuses to let us lose.”
Kane is second on the team in scoring behind Ejim, the Big 12 player of the year. Kane leads the Cyclones in assists and steals and is third in rebounding at 6.7 per game. The 24-year-old also makes nearly 40 percent of his 3-pointers.
When Iowa State defeated Baylor in Ames in January, Kane had 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds, recorded nine assists and collected five steals. He’s the fourth Division I player since 1997 to produce those numbers.
Baylor coach Scott Drew noted that Kane nearly had the same stat line Saturday night. "I'm glad," he said, "he only has one year in the league, by the way."
During his time at Marshall, Kane compiled points, assists … and trouble. One year he led the nation in technical fouls. After last season, coach Tom Herrion – who on Friday was dismissed as the team’s coach – dismissed Kane from the roster. Kane considered Pitt, but chose Iowa State because of Hoiberg’s style of play.
Before leaving Marshall, however, he wrote a letter to The Herald Dispatch thanking Herd fans for their support and apologizing to them for not reaching the NCAA tournament.
"I wouldn't call it redemption," Kane said. "I would call it a blessing. For the coach and (athletic director Jamie Pollard) to give me a second chance and mature a little bit, overcome some things and being a better person. It grew me up a lot."
Kane brings a positive and at times defiant edge to Iowa State. The Cyclones missed 15 of their first 16 shots and trailed the Bears by 10 points with just under four minutes to play. After a Matt Thomas drive cut the margin to eight, Baylor’s Isaiah Austin missed a 3-pointer. Kane rebounded and dribbled into the front court. From the moment he touched the ball, it was evident he planned to launch a three.
And he did. Swish. That brought Iowa State within five, which was the halftime deficit.
“We played together,” Kane said. “We trust one another. We fight with each other. We're brothers. We love playing with each other. You see it on the court, even though we get down. We've been getting down like that all year, but we trust one another, we keep fighting and we always find a way to get it done.”
DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, Sr., G (Most Outstanding Player)
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr., G
Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So., C
Georges Niang, Iowa State, So., F
Melvin Ejim, Iowa State, Sr., F