WATERLOO, Ia. — Throughout his basketball career, Maishe Dailey has been told he’s too unselfish. You won’t get recruited if you don’t score more, friends back home in Ohio would say.
When Dailey sprouted from 6-foot-1 to 6-6 in just two years, the Division I offers started pouring in — more than 20 of them last summer. He refused to let that change his style of play, averaging a mere 14 points per game as a senior at Beachwood High School in suburban Cleveland, along with 8.5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Dailey verbally committed to Rutgers in January, then backed away from those plans when coach Eddie Jordan was fired in March. He wanted to be sure the new coaching staff still wanted him. In the meantime, Florida, Connecticut and Providence College entered the picture.
So did Iowa. Dailey visited, and he was hooked.
“It just felt like everybody really welcomed me,” Dailey said Sunday after scoring 15 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer for his Prime Time League team at the Cedar Valley Sportsplex. “The coaching staff, they really had a nice blueprint for my four years here. We have the same goals for myself, and that’s just to be the best player I can be. I think the coaching staff at Iowa is the best in the nation that can do that.”
Dailey is a difficult player to get a read on because of his insistence on playing team basketball in a summer-league setting that tends to reward showy players. In his first PTL game, he was noticeable for passing up open shots to deliver the basketball to teammates closer to the basket.
“He’s like a Swiss army knife. He can do a little bit of everything. He can dribble, pass, shoot it at an elite level,” said fellow Hawkeye freshman Tyler Cook, who is on Dailey’s PTL team. “He has great height, too. He’s long, he’s hard to guard, so once he gets strong, he’ll be a problem in the Big Ten.”
Dailey is a spritely 185 pounds and says he’s not done growing. He thinks he will end up at 6-8 and hopes to add another 10 pounds of muscle before his rookie college season begins in November. A diet heavy on protein and a strict weightlifting regimen should get him there.
Still, he may end up redshirting on an Iowa team that has five incoming freshmen. He said that has not been discussed yet, and he’s preparing as if he will play this winter.
“They’ve been talking about me just being ready for the season — just keep progressing and I’m on the right path to contribute this year,” Dailey said of the feedback he’s getting from coach Fran McCaffery and the Iowa staff.
But what position he will play remains an open question. In high school, he played both guard spots and both forward positions. At Iowa, he’s been spending time at point guard and at each wing. His strength, Dailey believes, is that versatility.
“My ability to guard the smallest player on the court and the biggest player on the court” is what he brings to the team, says Dailey, whose wing span approaches 6-10. “My energy. I think I can really ramp it up and do whatever the coach asks me to do.
“I think the whole team is versatile, but I think I can bring the ball up the floor, I can rebound, I can shoot.”
A young Hawkeyes team can certainly use all of that. So perhaps Dailey will get the chance to showcase his talents and strong basketball IQ beyond just the PTL this year.
Regardless, he feels vindicated for not listening to the chatter in Ohio and trying to change who he is as a player.
“I just stayed true to myself and just played the way I know how to play,” Dailey said. “And I’m here, so I’m going to keep on doing it.”