AMES, Iowa He's big, burly and looking for an opening.
When Iowa State forward Anthony Booker toes the 3-point line, there's no trepidation.
"I like to look at myself as an opportunist," said the 6-9, 255-pound senior forward, who hit two 3-pointers in two seasons at Southern Illinois, but dropped in 16of38 as a Cyclone in 2011-12.
Booker's most remarkable long-range stretch came midway through the season.He hit all three of his 3-point tries in a Big 12 season-opening win over Texas.Then drained his only attempt in consecutive games against Texas A&M and Missouri.
So are there more to come?Again, he's an opportunist.
"I don't really hunt threes, but I've always had a skill of shooting three. But with me being so big and so strong I have to do my other job, which is rebounding, blocking shots and playing good post defense."
Booker said despite the loss of leading scorer, rebounder and assist man Royce White who bolted early to the NBA ISU should be solid on the block.
Joining him down low are touted freshman Georges Niang, promising sophomore Percy Gibson and senior swingman Melvin Ejim, who is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (6.6 per game)
"I think we can be very good, actually," Booker said. "Very productive. We're not on a lot of people's radars and that's kind of the way we like it at Iowa State. We like sneaking up on people."
Like on the 3-point line?
"I've always been able to shoot the ball," he said.
Backup point guard Bubu Palo, a former walk-on from Ames, remains indefinitely suspended. He was one of two men charged with second-degree sexual abuse last month.
Cyclone forward Georges Niang is a Bostonian.So, of course, he's a Red Sox fan.
His take on his team's struggles in 2012?
"I'm not going to put a lot on (fired manager) Bobby Valentine's shoulders because it's a team effort," said Niang, the 69th-best prospect in the class of 2012, according to Rivals.com. "But, hey, (former manager) Terry Francona was doing a good job."
Niang's a student of the game and a practitioner of a "lost art," according to fellow freshman Naz Long.
"He utilizes the hook shot like I haven't seen," Long said.