By Jason Brummond
For the Press-Citizen
For Gabe Olaseni, last season’s sudden rise to be a key player in Iowa’s rotation was just the start. Now he’s preparing to make a real impact.
Olaseni won Iowa’s Most Improved Award after posting career-high numbers in every statistical category, but coach Fran McCaffery told the 6-foot-10 center to concentrate on one thing this summer: developing his offensive game.
“The coaching staff told me from day one that it’s not a one-year process of me becoming a complete player,” said Olaseni, who had 25 points and seven rebounds in his Prime Time League team’s 109-98 win at the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday.
“I’m seeing the progression now. Last year, I made a little bit of a jump. This year, I’m really trying to blow up.”
Olaseni averaged 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11 minutes a game off the bench for the Hawkeyes last season. All of Iowa’s centers and forwards are returning to this year’s team.
Olaseni looked impressive Sunday, highlighted by a big-time two-handed dunk in transition.
The 21-year-old hit one fadeaway jumper off the block and made several nice passes on the high post to teammates cutting through the lane or posting up on the block. He even dribbled down the length of the court on a break after grabbing a defensive rebound.
“I showed glimpses last year of scoring in the post,” Olaseni said. “I want to be a consistent threat in the four or five position next year.”
Olaseni sees an opportunity to help the Hawkeyes by improving his midrange game in the high post. He works on his jump shot all the time, putting up hundreds of shots a day.
Olaseni said he’s feeling more confident and comfortable with a 15- or 17-foot jumper, mostly pick-and-pop shots after setting a screen. He loves the baseline jump shot.
The center played at 228 pounds last year and expects to be about 235 this season. He’s focused on adding strength, not necessarily weight. Olaseni’s length and athleticism allows him to be a threat off the block.
“I’m trying to be a face-up player,” he said. “I realize I can’t really bang down there. We have guys like Woody for that. I’m just trying to be complementary to everyone on the team.”
Olaseni already is looking ahead to Iowa’s overseas trip in August for six games in his hometown London and then Paris. Olaseni said 100 of his family and friends will be in London to watch him play.
“That’s pretty cool,” Olaseni said. “They could have went anywhere in the world, and they decided to go to London.”
HAWKEYE PTL HIGHLIGHTS: Jarrod Uthoff led all Hawkeyes with 29 points in Sunday’s PTL action. During one two-minute stretch, Uthoff had a putback dunk and later drained an NBA 3-pointer.
Zach McCabe had 27 points and 15 rebounds.
Anthony Clemmons scored 25 points on 5-of-9 3-point shooting in a matchup against Mike Gesell, who had 21 points and 15 assists.
Adam Woodbury scored 23 points, and incoming freshman Peter Jok scored 22. Kyle Meyer added nine points and eight rebounds.
Devyn Marble, Aaron White and Josh Oglesby didn’t play Sunday.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball