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AMES — You probably won’t see it on camera after Tuesday’s 7 p.m. Iowa State-Kansas game at Allen Fieldhouse, the way Cyclones forward Tristan Enaruna and Jayhawks coach Bill Self interact.
They’ll either acknowledge one another with a quick wink or a smile.
Maybe even a fist-bump or a hug.
However it happens, I’m of the notion it will be done cordially and with genuine respect.
Enaruna transferred after two seasons at Kansas to where he’s starting for an Iowa State team whose 13-2 record includes 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference. They parted after last season on good terms.
Tuesday, they’ll reunite, as will Jalen Coleman-Lands with Iowa State teammates with whom he played during the Cyclones’ 2-22 season of 2020-21.
It’s like they passed in the transfer portal, which actually is accurate. They were in limbo at the same time for 12 days, before Enaruna made his transfer to Iowa State official on April 21, and Coleman-Lands did likewise to Kansas on May 19.
“The reason I transferred was because I felt like I needed a different environment to develop,” Enaruna said Monday. “I learned a lot when I was over there. I had to take another step. I felt like it was going to be better for me to do that somewhere else.”
Enaruna’s relationship with his new coach started when he was in high school. Renewing that relationship happened quickly.
“T.J. was the first guy that reached out to me after I entered the portal,” Enaruna said of Iowa State’s T.J. Otzelberger. “He knew me since high school, when he was still (coaching) at South Dakota State. We started talking right from that moment when I hit the portal.
“We created a good relationship. I trusted them as a coaching staff. I felt like it was a good opportunity, with a new team and new guys.”
Who got the better end of the deal?
Depends on what you’re looking for. Enaruna has started all 15 games, and he’s averaging 6.8 points while playing an average of 17.6 minutes.
Coleman-Lands, a reserve on the nation’s No. 10-ranked team, averages 11.1 minutes and 5.3 points a game. He’s made 16 of his 37 3-point attempts, while Enaruna generally shoots from mid-range.
I’d say both teams got what they needed — 16th-ranked Iowa State a valuable starter, and Kansas a reserve who can score from distance.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Enaruna said of returning to one of the nation’s toughest places to play. “Obviously, I still have a good relationship with those guys.”
And yes, that relationship includes Self.
“He thought it was a good thing for me,” Enaruna said of the transfer. “It’s not that he wanted me gone; he felt like I needed a different opportunity as well.
“He was very optimistic, very supportive of it. He knew (Otzelberger) was a good coach. He pretty much just wished me the best.”
How will Tyrese Hunter handle Allen Fieldhouse?
Enaruna has played 27 games at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse. He’s experienced the friendly side of what’s always one of the top two (Hilton Coliseum being the other) most enthusiastic crowds in the Big 12.
Point guard teammate Tyrese Hunter, however, will be venturing into Kansas’ museum-like arena for the first time. A rookie in the Big 12, he’s also a newbie when it comes to experiencing what he’ll experience Tuesday.
“The crowd (and) how loud it gets — we can’t let that take away our focus,” Enaruna said. “That’s really what they want. They’re going to try to speed you up.”
Despite being just 18 years old, and with only 15 college games on his resume, Hunter will be the player trying to prevent that from happening.
“During the break, I looked at the top six conferences — there’s maybe 22 freshmen starting in all those leagues,” Otzelberger said. “Five or six of them are point guards.
“There’s a reason why the Big 12 is the best league in the country. One part of that reason is everybody’s old. Everybody’s playing experienced guys. There’s not very many freshmen, or sophomores even, playing on the teams in this league.
“When you think what we’re asking of Tyrese Hunter, it’s a tall task. He’s continuing to get better. He’s a competitor and loves a challenge.”
Especially a challenge like the Kansas crowd will present Tuesday.
“I know it’ll be loud,” Hunter said after playing very well in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma. “I just have to play my game.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021 . Reach him at email@example.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Kansas transfer Tristan Enaruna returns to KU as Iowa State player