Boone, Ia. – It's never too early for a play-by-play man to work on pronunciations.
“Is it Ola-SAN-ee or Oh-lah-SEHN-ee)?” ' Gary Dolphin, play-by-play voice for Iowa football and men's basketball, said before starting his duties as Master of Ceremonies at the Boone-Story County I-Club Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery signed 6-foot-10 Gabe Olaseni from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, to a letter of intent.
“It's Oh-lah-SEHN-ee, ' McCaffery said.
Olaseni is the fourth and likely final piece of this year's recruiting class, which includes preps Josh Oglesby and Aaron White and junior college transfer Anthony Hubbard. McCaffery has one more ride available but will probably bank it for 2012.
McCaffery said on numerous occasions last season that he was not into recruiting projects. While he noted Tuesday that Olaseni has tremendous upside and is not a finished product, he said his playing time will start in 2011-12.
“He's a guy that I think, while his best basketball is ahead of him, he's still a really good player now,'' McCaffery said.
Olsesni, who is from London, England, has only been in the United States for one season of basketball. He averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.2 blocked shots and 1.2 assists in 28 games, shooting 72 percent from the field.
McCaffery likes a lot of things about Olaseni, besides the fact that he's 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan.
“He can run and he's athletic,'' McCaffery said. “He's 225, so he needs to put on a few pounds. We'll get him to 230 or 235 before he plays for us. Since he's athletic, he can cover a lot of ground. We can do some things defensively with him. He's got a good mid-range jump shot. He can hit the elbow jumper. So if he's out there in the high post and Melsahn (Basabe) is in the low post, his man won't be on top of Mel because Gabe can score.''
The Iowa coaching staff first saw Olaseni this fall when they went to see Eric Katenda, a Sunrise forward that McCaffery started recruiting when he was the coach at Siena and Katenda played at a school in Connecticut. Katenda, who had Iowa in his final three, signed with Notre Dame Tuesday.
“We went to see Katenda play and we really liked (Olaseni),'' McCaffery said.
McCaffery thinks Olaseni will improve rapidly when he gets more comfortable in the states.
“The more he plays in this country, what you'll see is rapid growth,'' McCaffery predicted.
McCaffery thinks the Hawkeyes, who lost just one starter in senior Jarryd Cole from an 11-win team, will be much improved in 2011-12.
“We're much deeper, and we've got more size and depth,'' McCaffery said. “I think practices will be really competitive. And we'll be able to absorb injury. And we're a lot older. We'll be a much more experienced team.''
The addition of Hubbard gives Iowa a better spacing of classes, too. He joins Eric May in the junior class next season. There will also be four seniors – Matt Gatens, Bryce Cartwright, Andrew Brommer and Devon Archie, and three sophomores – Zach McCabe, Devyn Marble and Basabe.
“We've balanced our classes a little better now,'' McCaffery said.