Weiler-Babb stepping into new leadership role
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Iowa State basketball coach Steve Prohm sat down with his three returning players in the offseason. He told them as their roles increase, they have to max out their individual role if they want to have success this season.
For guard Nick Weiler-Babb, that role is being an on-court coach.
“He’s a guy that has been around this program for a long time with his brother Chris [Babb] playing here. He was also a redshirt my first year,” Prohm said during Big 12 men’s basketball media day. “The biggest thing that he can provide, because his IQ for the game is so good, is being a coach on the floor.”
Prohm has had an on-court coach ever since he took over the head coaching spot at Murray State in 2011.
“A senior leader came into the locker room and said, ‘Coach, we got you,’” Prohm said. “We took off and we were the last unbeaten team in the country. You do that by not getting caught up in all of the other hype. You do stuff like that by being great every day. You need great leaders, you need it to be player driven.”
Prohm will still lead practices. He’s going to be vocal, he’s going to be a perfectionist and, to use his word, he’ll “probably be a little anal.”
But in a game, that’s where Prohm needs a player like Weiler-Babb to step up and be that on-court coach to make sure guys are in the right spot.
“I just gauge where everyone is at,” Weiler-Babb said. “Guys like Donovan [Jackson] and Solomon [Young] I won’t have to get on them as much because they’ve been here. But the young guys, you just have to be patient with them. If they have a question you have to let them know that you’re there to help.
“I have to know everybody’s position just so I know where everybody is supposed to be so if they’re in the wrong spot I should be able to tell them.”
If that sounds like a job players like Georges Niang and Monte Morris held in the past, that’s because it is.
The thing about Niang, Morris and now Weiler-Babb is they are all pass-first players. They want to get their teammates involved.
Weiler-Babb said he gets everyone together to watch film and practice so he can better understand their strengths and weaknesses and when to get them the ball.
“Being a pass-first guy, I like to get guys involved, I like to get guys in their spots,” Weiler-Babb said. “I know where guys like to get their shots from and I know where guys shoot the best from.”
One of those players is highly-touted freshman Lindell Wigginton. Weiler-Babb has taken Wigginton under his wing.
“He’s so athletic and he’s so smart with the ball – he’s going to be a really great player. He’ll be big for us,” Weiler-Babb said. “He’s still a freshman so he’s going to have those freshman mistakes, just things that freshman, and basketball players in general, do.
“There’s always the coaching aspect that I can be for him. I’ve been in his position, I’ve made those mistakes. You just have to keep him encouraged and don’t let him get down on himself for making silly mistakes and things he’s not supposed to do.”
Asking guys to take on a bigger role, or a role change isn’t anything new for Prohm.
Last year, he needed Solomon Young’s role to increase when he put him in the starting lineup. He also needed Darrell Bowie’s role to change.
“If you look at last year, if the players don’t accept the role changes, then it’s not going to work,” Prohm said. “We hit on that account and that’s why we had a great year.”
Now, it’s Weiler-Babb’s turn.
“He’s a redshirt junior and he’s been in Division I going into four years now,” Prohm said. “He’s got the experience, now he has to take that next step once we get on the floor.”