Is Tyrese Haliburton NBA bound?

Tyrese Haliburton went from unknown high school all-arounder to a model pass-first point guard – as well as a U19 world champion – to a leading man for the Iowa State Cyclones, with the results making him an intriguing prospect for the NBA.

Haliburton was leading the Cyclones this season in scoring as well as assists and steals while ranking tied for first in rebounds until he fractured his left wrist in the mid February. While the season may be over, it will be seen as one of major transition for Haliburton.

Haliburton grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, not exactly a hotbed of basketball. His father John coached a local women’s team and the younger Haliburton was always in a gym. During his junior year at Oshkosh North high school, he averaged 18 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds before those numbers jumped to 22.9 points and 6.2 assists as a senior – not to mention winning the state championship.

Haliburton was the best player on the best team in Wisconsin, but his in-state rivals such as Tyler Herro, Joey Hauser and Jordan McCabe all were higher on college recruiters’ radars and ended up at big programs such as Kentucky, Marquette and West Virginia, respectively. The big reason was Haliburton not playing on a popular AAU team. And it would be an understatement to say that Haliburton was just flying under the radar. It was more like he was wearing camouflage as well.

In the end, Haliburton ended up at Iowa State, coming into a Cyclones team that was loaded with talent – such as Lindell Wigginton, Talen Horton-Tucker, Marial Shayok and Nick Weiler-Babb. Missing was an egoless, pass-happy “glue guy” – someone just like Haliburton.

On December 9, 2018, Haliburton shined in his role, dishing out 17 assists against Southern. For the season, he averaged 6.8 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds while committing only 28 turnovers in 35 games.

One person who took notice of Haliburton was Bruce Weber, the head coach at Kansas State – someone who faced the Cyclones three times last season – losing twice, including at the Big-12 Conference tournament with Haliburton averaging 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists and committing only 3 turnovers total in 98 minutes.

Weber was named head coach of the United States team at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 and he brought Haliburton with him to Heraklion and gave him the keys to the car laden with star high school studs such as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley oder Ziaire Williams.

Haliburton was the head of the USA team, leading the tournament in assists at 6.9 per game – with only 1.1 turnovers a contest. Haliburton scored 7.9 points but he only took 4.6 shots per game, hitting 69 percent from the field including 56 percent on three-pointers. Haliburton was named to the All-Star Five as United States won the crown.

Back at Iowa State, Haliburton returned to a team without Shayok, Wigginton, Hurton-Tucker and Weiler-Babb – meaning nearly 75 percent of the team’s scoring output was gone. Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm wanted to lean on Haliburton to fill the hole – even if Haliburton had to re-invent himself, again.

After mainly being a passer as a freshman, Haliburton had to take more of the scoring load as a sophomore. But the Iowa State talent level didn’t match up with that of last season and Haliburton was taken out of games against big teams such as Kansas and Baylor, scoring just 5 and 6 points, respectively. For the season, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals. He also had a triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Texas Christian.

“He’s going to be one of the most controversial prospects in this year’s draft,” one NBA executive was quoted in The Ringer. “Not because people don’t know what he can do but because they don’t know how to value it.”

Haliburton is predicted to go in the lottery of the 2020 NBA Draft – even being a top-five pick in many mock drafts. That’s a long way from the unknown kid coming out of high school.

by FIVE Magazine #166 – Tyrese Haliburton – Text: Torben Adelhardt

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