IOWA CITY, Ia. – Gabe Olaseni will return to home turf next month. He’ll be, among other things, a tour guide. And at 6-foot-10, he may be the tallest tour guide his hometown of London has ever seen.
Olaseni will be showing his Iowa basketball teammates and coaches around England’s capital city that has a population of more than 8 million. The Hawkeyes have a six-game tour of England and France, with the first two games in London on Aug. 13-14.
That will give Gabe’s parents, Benson and Yvette Olaseni, their first opportunity to see their son compete in an Iowa uniform.
“When I told my mom we were coming, she was really happy,” Olaseni said. “Over the moon.”
Olaseni, too, is grateful for the opportunity to play in front of family and friends.
“The coaching staff didn’t have to do that,” Olaseni said. “They could have gone anywhere in the world. China, Japan…they decided to go to London. I’m just blessed, really. It makes me feel great.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery asked Olaseni to show the team around in London.
“I told him we needed his expertise,” McCaffery said.
Olaseni doesn’t have the itinerary set, but he wants to show off London’s biggest tourist attractions and special places most tourists miss.
“There are a lot of different things you can try,” Olaseni said. “I’ve lived there my whole life, and I still haven’t seen half the things. I’m looking forward to going back. It’s such a cool and multicultural place.”
Olaseni will hand travel guide duties over to Margaret McCaffery, Fran’s wife, for two games in France and two more in the south of France. Margaret played professional basketball in the country.
“She speaks French,” Fran said. “She knows her way around, and she’ll be able to speak for us.”
Olaseni’s friends and family in London will see an improved player from the one who left for the United States to play at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. And Olaseni’s improvement at Iowa goes far beyond his averages of 10.7 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds a game last season as a sophomore.
His glimpses of potential are becoming more common. And playing in the Prime Time League this summer, Olaseni has displayed a more aggressive approach.
“I think he’s figuring that out on his own,” McCaffery said. “Every day he gets more and more confident, stronger, older, smarter, tougher. He’s so much more aggressive in pretty much everything he does.”
When McCaffery and Olaseni met after last season, the coach stressed offense.
“He said that offensively I can do so much more,” Olaseni said. “It’s just a confidence thing. I only started playing six or seven years ago. I couldn’t impact a game offensively. I could have seven blocks, 15 rebounds and two points, and that was fine with me.”
But Olaseni is entering his junior season in an offensive frame of mind.
“There’s no reason I can’t have a lot of rebounds and a lot of points,” Olaseni said. “I feel that if I put in the work, the rewards will come. At the same time, you have to stay hungry and humble and realize you haven’t accomplished anything yet. Success is just around the corner.”
IOWA’S EUROPEAN TOUR
Aug. 13 – vs. London Lions, London, England, 1:30 p.m. (CDT)
Aug. 14 – vs. London Lions, London, England, 1:30 p.m. (CDT)
Aug. 16 – vs. ANW All-Stars, Paris , France, 1:30 p.m. (CDT)
Aug. 17 – vs. St. Quentin, Paris, France, 1:30 p.m. (CDT)
Aug. 19 – vs. Hyeres-Toulon, South of France, 11 a.m. (CDT)
Aug. 20 – vs. Fos-Quest, South of France, 11 a.m. (CDT)
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball