AMES, Iowa (AP) — It would have been difficult to guess that the Big 12's leading rebounder would be Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue, a lightly heralded junior college transfer.
But Cyclones forward Georges Niang knew right away not to doubt his remarkable new teammate.
"He's a mean cat, man. When he wants something, he gets it. Whether it's a sandwich after practice or a rebound. He's just determined," Niang said. "When you have determination like that, nothing's going to stop you."
So far, no one has been able to stop Hogue or the Cyclones — whose surprising 8-0 start has been keyed by their most surprising player.
The 6-foot-6 Hogue is the leading rebounder among Big 12 teams with 11.1 a game — nearly two more than anyone else in the league — and he has 12.6 points a game on 60.3 percent shooting.
Hogue is also averaging 17 points and 15.3 rebounds in his past three games, wins over Auburn, Northern Iowa and No. 25 Iowa.
"He's just an absolute warrior. He goes after every ball. The rebounds he gets, he gets up higher than everyone else and then he elevates a couple of inches. It's just amazing to see how he goes after that ball," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
In just six weeks, Hogue has become indispensable to the Cyclones.
Iowa State thought Hogue had plenty of promise — but nobody saw him as the kind of talent who could carry a Division I team.
Hogue grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., the younger brother of linebacker Donald Hogue, who played three seasons in the NFL, and was forced to go to junior college after failing to qualify academically out of high school.
He averaged 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds a game last season for Indian Hills, a community college in Iowa. Hogue was seen largely as an athletic defender and rebounder and perhaps an occasional scorer at the Division I level.