KANSAS CITY, Mo. — DeAndre Kane, a Cyclone for all of 10 months, wore the look of an Iowa State lifer as he climbed onto the railing and began high-fiving the sea of cardinal.

The Big 12 tournament MVP, who spent three uneven seasons at Marshall and nearly chose to spend this one at Pitt, was so thankful for the last-minute flight he took to Ames last spring. Thankful for a coach who vowed to put the ball in his hands and some repute in his character. Thankful for the opportunity “to go somewhere far out, where I could start fresh, start over.”

And start winning.

There was no escaping the juxtaposition of Kane leading Iowa State to this pinnacle just 36 hours after his former coach was forced out at Marshall. As Cyclone players posed for trophy pics inside their Sprint Center locker room, Kane offered a matter-of-fact reaction to Tom Herrion’s dismissal: “I wish him the best. It was nothing bad between us like that. I hope he can get another job somewhere.”

He sounded earnest and straightforward—the same tone he took when Cyclones forward Georges Niang texted last spring “I’m glad to have you here.”

Kane’s short and not-so-sweet text reply: “I just want to win.”

Niang laughs at the exchange now, saying “I was expecting him to be like ‘Yeah, man, I’m happy to be here’ or I can’t wait to get out there.’ But I didn’t know DeAndre that well then.”

What has he learned about the 24-year-old Kane since?

“That he’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever played with. 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.”

That refusal didn’t take at Marshall, at least not last season when The Herd reacted to high expectations by plummeting to a 13-19 record. Several players exited, among them Kane. The school said only that he was dismissed from the team by Herrion.

Despite a slew of technicals on the court and whatever disruptions Kane created off of it, he had big-time stats and undeniable talent—and he had his degree, which made other programs interested in his immediate eligibility as a transfer. 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.

“It was great times there, but I didn’t win,” he said Saturday night in Kansas City. “I didn’t cut down no nets. It wasn’t as fun at the end of the season as this is.”

He reportedly was bound for Pitt, back to the area where he won a high school state championship, but he said “Pitt’s style of play wasn’t really my style of play.”

Plus Pittsburgh featured the menacing influence of gangs and drugs he witnessed up close as a teenager. In Ames, Kane saw a program that under Fred Hoiberg has welcomed second-chancers, saw a small-town atmosphere where “there was nothing to get me in trouble.”

Kane quickly surfaced as the latest and maybe greatest of Hoiberg’s redemption projects—a turnaround not merely measured by the team’s 26 wins or its first Big 12 championship since 2000.

“With coach mentoring me, it grew me up a lot,” Kane said. “Let me mature a little and overcome some things that I did in the past. Helped me be a better person.

“He’s one of the best coaches in America, one of the best people in America. Him giving me a second chance was great. I can’t thank him anymore for that.”

Kane produced 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as Iowa State beat Baylor 74-65, storming back with a 33-16 run over the last 10 minutes. As the victory ended, with seemingly all of Cyclone Nation threatening to roar the roof off the Sprint Center, Niang lifted Kane three feet off the ground at midcourt. From booted out at Marshall to boosted up at Iowa State, Kane’s 10-month restoration was stunning.

“We don’t really look at what (problems) they’ve had in the past,” Niang said of transfers like Kane. “If Fred OK’s you, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to welcome you with open arms. I tell you this: I wish we could have had four years with DeAndre instead of just one.”

That one year has been trending toward something remarkable, and the Cyclone faithful only grew further stimulated by a pulsating three days at the conference tournament. Once Iowa State clinched it, and once Niang put Kane down, the transfer sought out various corners of the court to interact with fans and prolong the moment. Before heading into the jubilant locker room, Kane spent several minutes more autographing basketballs for kids in a hallway. The guy in the No. 50 jersey was grateful for the admiration.

“It was like a home game out there,” he said. “That thing was sold out mainly with all our fans. These fans, they deserve it. They come out all year, spend their money on season tickets, scream their lungs out every game. We wanted to bring them home a championship.”

The cardinal ocean absorbed him during that championship aftermath, and he couldn’t get enough. You sensed Kane was ready to crowd surf if not for the trophy presentation about to transpire at center court. Multi-colored streamers cascaded as he joined his new brothers on the postgame platform, a one-year free agent suddenly beloved by a program now anxious to see what heights it can achieve in the next tournament.

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  • Big joe

    How come he didn't transfer to wvu

  • Shadow

    A good sports story with a very human aspect. Both Kane and Hoiberg have my respect and I hope to see them do well in the Tournament.

  • Alex

    Thanks Allan , I enjoy reading a good sports article. Many many years ago this professor made a statement that I have never forgotten. it gos like this ( any time anybody has something good to say it would not hurt me to listen or read it ). Being a sports minded person as I am I read about other teams other schools and follow many different games on TV and in person if possible. Always try NOT to be narrowminded but broad minded when anybody speaks. In other words Mr. Taylor do what you do we either like it or not, this was a good article, thank you.

  • Jeff Riggs

    We are in! Old big east game with Georgetown.nit here we go!

  • Wvu2004

    This article follows several other posted under the "WVU" section as it pertains to the BIG 12. I enjoy the articles on other teams or players in conference from time to time especially when it's slow news time for our sports.

  • Mister Man

    Wait until Canty gets to his next team. That should be interesting. I think he should've stayed at Marshall.

  • Aaron

    While I liked the story, I appreciate Mr. Kane's transformation and I understand the relevance of this story to WVU, I would have preferred Metro News dedicate some stories to our NCAA Women's team. Had they, perhaps fans might be aware before the selection later today that WVU, despite being ranked #5 in the country will likely be seeded #3 seed in the South Bend Bracket and play their round games in Iowa City, IA.

    I understand how seeding works in the Women's game, but I don't think even the Metro News writers could justify South Carolina, losers to #12 UK in the SEC championship game and ranked lower than WV being seeded #2 seed and playing in Toledo while WVU is relegated to the #3 seed playing in Iowa City.

    Had WVU got that #2 seed, perhaps the state news media could have sent some beat writers to cover the team given that it's only a 4 hour/300 mile drive to Toledo. As it is, I doubt many will bother sending writers over 700 miles to cover a team lacking in ticket sales and web hits, particularly if they've spent their travel budget covering the Big 12 conference 3 days AFTER WVU exited.

    I believe our young ladies deserve better coverage. How can we expect national respect when we don’t get it in our own back yard?

    • Mister Man

      The brackets aren't out yet, except for the fictitious one by Charlie Crème.

      • Aaron

        Why can't we. Aren't these gentleman paid for their expertise? Or do you think they set in a room and throw darts at a board to pick the seeds.

        • Mister Man

          We can follow anyone's conjecture, but that doesn't mean it's official.

          • Aaron

            They announced WV as a 2 seed in the Lousiville bracket about 2 hours ago. Well done ladies. Congratulations, now on to Louisville and then to Nashville.

          • Allan Taylor

            Rest easy, Aaron. We'll be at the women's bracket watch party on Monday night when the real brackets are unveiled.

      • Mister Man

        My point being, we can't know where WVU will be seeded at this time.

      • Aaron

        Your point is?

  • TruthTeller

    It does make you wonder how a farm state like Iowa is producing all of this success in college sports and why is it WVU is struggling so much.
    I mean what is in Iowa that would bring talent to their colleges? There has to be something against the rules going on for sure. I smell corruption that has yet to be discovered.

    • Mister Man

      All of what success?

  • William101

    WVU fan here, and I enjoyed the article. Sports can be transformative, and Kane, who obviously comes from humble beginnings and who was disruptive on the floor when WVU played Marshall, has apparently grown up.

    Good for him.

    I don't view this as a knock against Marshall or Coach Herrion, but as a positive sports story.

    Kane probably put himself in a position to earn a shot at the NBA. What he does with the opportunities he gained from his year at ISU will be the real story going forward.

  • aquarius

    good article...it also served to alert some of our fans we've actually moved to a new conference the b12....which iowa state is a member.

  • Hop'sHip

    Good story, well told. I think I'll be rooting for Iowa State in the tournament. Thanks Allan!

  • Say What?

    This is WVU sports news how? Oh, wait. Hold the phone. This is a slam at Marshall and the city of Pittsburgh. Now I get it. You are a sly one, Allen.

  • nate

    Also why would Marshall fans want to hear about how great a player who left them to go elsewhere is doing. SMH

    • Greg

      Because we like Kane. Most were upset with Herrion for showing him the door.

  • nate

    Please tell me why this is in WVU news.No Mountaineer fan worth his salt cares one bit about this. Pretty sad I click on WV metro news and click on WVU and the top story is a piece about how great a player for Iowa State is. Garbage.

    • Allan Taylor

      To Nate the Isolationist: There are WVU fans who actually care about the Big 12 conference and how the league has a direct impact on the Mountaineers. Guess you missed the mini-uproar from folks in WV who were blcked out from watching the Kansas-Iowa State semifinals on the dish.

    • Mr. Ed

      Didn't read this. Why would any WV fan?

  • Ricky Dean

    I have never had the opportunity to read any of your work. Nice piece, Alan. Proud to know you and your folks!!!