Only a decade ago, Gabe Olaseni decided to play organized basketball. At 23 and in the NBA Draft discussion, his decision appears to be a good one. From the United Kingdom, Olaseni attended high school in the United States, and then fell in (mutual) love with the Iowa Hawkeyes, where he steadily improved each year. (As a senior, he averaged 8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 18 minutes.)
So, what should the NBA expect from Gabe Olaseni?
At 6’10" and 223 pounds, he’s physically imposing, yet fairly light on his feet. In other words, he can run the floor pretty well for someone his size. He’s a capable, offensive threat on the break too, and demonstrates good awareness and hands around the basket.
His midrange jumper, while not completely polished, is far from a major weakness. Shooting 52 percent from the floor and 75 percent at the line, he can face up and hit a jumper. With his size, athleticism and quickness, Olaseni could play in a pick and roll game with him diving hard to the rim.
Although, it might be his defense, not offense, that helps him make a quicker NBA impact. Length and athleticism are two attributes that’ll help him on that end. He’s also intelligent and well spoken. He’ll pick up NBA defensive concepts, but it may take time. (He’s only been playing basketball for a decade after all.)
Defensively, in the NBA, he’ll have to guard more pick and rolls and contain more athletic guards. He has the athleticism, but the learning curve can be steep (even top rookies struggle defensively). He could be a good small ball center, or even guard NBA fours in bigger lineups. Again, it all depends whether he can maximize his athleticism and become even more refined in basketball intelligence.
Most NBA teams draft on potential, so in theory, at 23, age works against Olaseni. However, some NBA people believe he has yet to reach his potential, since he’s only played organized basketball for 10 years.
Though Olaseni is not a 1st Round prospect, he could be a prospect that develops in the D-League over time or off the bench in the right situation. He has a great combination of size, athleticism and smarts, which, could fit with numerous NBA teams in the future.