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ESPN’s Bilas: “I’m a big fan” of Iowa’s Basabe

[ 3 ] October 24, 2011 |

Iowa's Melsahn Basabe

Jay Bilas was watching on the Big Ten Network when Iowa freshman Melsahn Basabe stuffed the stat sheet in a 73-68 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Jan. 4, 2011.

Basabe had 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots in that game. Three of those rejections were on shots put up by heralded Buckeye freshman Jared Sullinger, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

“It was ridiculous,” Bilas, a former Duke star and current ESPN college basketball analyst, said of Basabe’s effort that night. “He was phenomenal. He’s got ability. And he kept doing it (all season). It wasn’t just a one-time deal. I was really impressed with him.”

Basabe went on to become the first Iowa freshman ever to total over 340 points, 200 rebounds and 40 blocks in a season. The last Hawkeye player to do that, regardless of class, was future NBA player Ryan Bowen in his senior season (447 points, 271 rebounds and 41 blocks in 1997-98).

Basabe finished the season averaging 11 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds a game and made the Big Ten all-freshman team. He finished the season with six double-doubles, five of them in Big Ten play.

“I’m a big fan of that kid,” Bilas said. “He’s bouncy, he’s athletic and he goes after the ball.”

Basabe, who weighed 208 pounds at the end of last season, is up to 234 now. He is just one of several things Bilas likes about coach Fran McCaffery’s second Iowa team that returns four starters from an 11-20 season.

“(Point guard) Bryce Cartwright is really good, and Matt Gatens is back,” Bilas said. “They’ve got some pieces there to be a lot more competitive. And they’re making a splash in the recruiting area, which is a big deal.”

Iowa’s biggest catch is Adam Woodbury, a 7-foot 1-inch center from Sioux City who picked the Hawkeyes over North Carolina. He and another Top 100 national recruit, guard Mike Gesell of South Sioux City, Neb., will sign binding letters of intent on Nov. 9 along with Patrick Ingram, a guard from Indianapolis, Ind.; Kyle Meyer, a forward from Alpharetta, Ga., and Anthony Clemmons, a guard from Lansing, Mich.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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