AMES, Iowa (AP) — It would be tough to call Iowa State forward Georges Niang underrated since everyone in the Big 12 knows how good he is.
But on a team full of stars, it's easy to overlook him.
Niang isn't nearly as exciting as high-flying forward Melvin Ejim or as fun to watch as point guard DeAndre Kane, one of the nation's breakout players.
Niang has simply been remarkably consistent and extremely effective. The sophomore has scored at least 17 points in nine of his last 10 games. He had 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists on Saturday to help No. 15 Iowa State (21-5, 9-5 Big 12) hold off TCU.
Niang is averaging 16.5 points and 3.8 assists a game, and his strong perimeter shot and passing ability at 6-foot-7 can be a matchup nightmare for opponents.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday that Niang means as much to the Cyclones as anyone else on the team — including the flashier Ejim and Kane.
"That's a great luxury to have, when you have three guys you can go to at any moment in the game," Hoiberg said. "I give our guys a lot of credit for locating the mismatch and playing to it, whoever that might be on a given night. A lot of times that is Georges."
Niang has been a key player for the Cyclones since the moment he joined them last season. Now that he's more experienced and in much better shape, Niang has quietly become one of the best players in the Big 12.
Niang came on toward the end of his freshman season, finishing with 12.1 points a game and earning Big 12 all-rookie honors. Niang finished with the fourth-most points by a freshman in school history and matched his previous career game high of 19 in Iowa State's win over Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament.