Oklahoma's Darryl Kennedy calls Iowa State forward Jeff Grayer "just about the toughest sucker in the Big Eight." Last season Grayer became one of five players in Conference history to score 1,000 points by his sophomore season. He also made the All-Big Eight defensive team for the second time.
Grayer, then, is coach Johnny Orr's ticket if the Cyclones are to match last spring's advance to the round of 16. Grayer will serve as co-captain with center Sam Hill, who starred in State's dramatic tournament win over Michigan. "Sam is a very mobile center," says Orr. "Even though he's not as big or as physical as most of the centers he plays against, he's at his best going against the top centers in the nation."
The missing piece from last season's package is guard Jeff Hornacek, the conference's alltime assists leader. But Gary Thompkins should take up the slack at the point; he dished out 133 assists and set an alltime Iowa State single-season record for field-goal percentage (.591).
And if familiarity counts, Orr has 9 of 12 lettermen back for '86-87. But this may be the most significant stat: Last season Grayer & Co. put a full-house average of 14,024 fans into the James H. Hilton Coliseum. In 1979-80, the year before Orr became the Cyclones' coach, attendance averaged 6,470.