Gabe Olaseni 'made himself some money' at Portsmouth

Chad Leistikow
Gabe Olaseni, shown in his final game as a Hawkeye against Gonzaga, averaged 7.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks a game at the Portsmouth Invitational last week.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – How things went for Iowa's Gabe Olaseni at the Portsmouth Invitational will someday be measured in dollar signs.

"I think he made himself some money," said Hawkeye basketball coach Fran McCaffery, who traveled to Virginia to witness his outgoing center deliver an impressive four-day audition in front of NBA scouts.

Olaseni was the top shot blocker among the 64 college seniors in the invitation-only event in three games (with a 3.7 average) and the No. 2 rebounder (10.7).

"I didn't expect to touch the ball at all from the guards," said Olaseni, who returned to Iowa City on Sunday. He spoke to The Des Moines Register before Iowa's season-ending award banquet Monday night. "I shot it when I could. Obviously, I rebounded and blocked shots. I just tried to fit in, show professional teams what I'm capable of.

"It was a good couple of days."

As he wraps up his classes at Iowa, it's also full speed ahead on his next chapter.

At Portsmouth, he had longer conversations with the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs. He expects to hire an agent later this week.

If he doesn't get invited to the mid-May NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, he wants to participate in the NBA-sanctioned Adidas Eurocamp, held June 6-8 in Treviso, Italy.

"I spoke to some teams (who said) if they couldn't necessarily draft me," Olaseni said, "they want to bring me in for pre-draft workouts, summer league."

Olaseni has grown into an intriguing pro prospect since his raw playing days at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. He's an older college senior, at 23, but the London native has only been playing organized basketball since age 14.

"Everybody likes him. They're not really sure what to make of him yet," McCaffery said. "Normally they don't like older guys.

"(But) they look at him and they say, 'He still has upside.' "

Olaseni measured 6-foot-8½ barefoot, 6-10 in shoes, and 223 pounds at Portsmouth. His wingspan was 7-3½ (NBA phenom Anthony Davis' out of college was 7-4) and he said he was "the fastest big guy there."

His coach there encouraged him to add three pounds a month to reach an ideal playing weight of 235.

He averaged 7.7 points against strong competition — consider Northern Iowa's Seth Tuttle, a second-team all-American, was held scoreless in three games. Strength and shooting are target areas of improvement, though his 75 percent free-throw success as a senior is a positive indicator.

"They understand that I may not necessarily be a consistent jump shooter right now," Olaseni said. "But because of my free-throw percentage and technique at the free-throw line, they know I'm a capable shooter."

One of Olaseni's eye-popping numbers at Portsmouth was his 33.7 minutes per game.

The most he ever played at Iowa in 122 games was 29 minutes.

That underscored how well-regarded the Big Ten Conference's Sixth Man of the Year was in Portsmouth, and how well he can run the floor.

"If I can't go to the NBA straight-away, they want to see me go to a high level overseas or to the D-League," Olaseni said. "There are several options. I'm just looking forward to playing for money. That's going to be a good feeling."


Aaron White was the not-surprising headliner of award winners at the Iowa basketball team's season-ending banquet Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

White was given the Chris Street Award — given to the player that best exemplifies the "the spirit, enthusiasm and intensity" of Street, who died in a 1993 car accident midway through his junior season at Iowa.

White also won the team's Best Rebounder award for a record fourth time. The native of Strongsville, Ohio, is the first Hawkeye since Greg Stokes in 1985 to lead the team in scoring (16.4), rebounding (7.3), and steals (1.3) in the same season. White earned first-team all-Big Ten Conference honors after leading Iowa to 12 league wins — the school's highest total in 18 seasons.




DEFENSIVE PLAYER AWARD: Gabriel Olaseni and Jarrod Uthoff

MOST IMPROVED: Anthony Clemmons