Heading into the 2014-15 men's basketball season, Cyclone fans were talking about how University of Nevada-Las Vegas transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones would fill DeAndre Kane's leadership role on the men’s basketball team.
Dejean-Jones has heard that conversation, and he intends to silence it, because contrary to popular belief, Bryce Dejean-Jones is not DeAndre Kane. He's his own person.
The senior transfer from UNLV is seen by some as an encore to a brilliant season by Kane, who led the Cyclones to the Sweet Sixteen last season. But as members of the media surrounded Dejean-Jones at the men's basketball media day, he downplayed comparisons to Kane.
"I don't really pay attention to [the comparison]," Dejean-Jones said. "My motivation is just looking forward to this being my last year. There's a great group of guys and coaches here. We're ready to do great things."
This year, Hoiberg said the team is going to be "leadership by committee." That means the door of opportunity is wide open for Dejean-Jones.
"You can use them in a lot of different areas on the floor," Hoiberg said of Kane and Dejean-Jones. "Bryce just has better range than DeAndre does. Bryce is more of a guy who's getting out and running, and DeAndre was more of a guy who was facilitating in his hands."
Dejean-Jones’ teammates aren’t getting sidetracked by the comparison either.
"Bryce is his own person," junior guard Naz Long said. "He completely knows that and accepts that, and no one can take that from him."
Both Dejean-Jones and Long are perimeter shooters, and the two already have taught each other a thing or two about shooting.
Long doesn't fear that his role of shooting 3-pointers is in jeopardy, but he finds himself giving up some more passes that he'd normally take.
"We've been on the same team in practice, and there's been a couple times where I could have taken some shots," Long said. "But I'll give that extra pass to Bryce to let him know he can pull."
With the start of the new season, Dejean-Jones already is creating his own identity.
He flirted with a triple-double in the Nov. 17 game against Georgia State, scoring 15 points and adding seven rebounds and seven assists. He also had two steals and two blocks to show what an all-around player he is.
With all that on the table, Dejean-Jones has a clean slate and a fresh mind, and it didn’t take long for Cyclones fans to realize that he’s his own person.