After playing an average of 10.7 minutes per game as a sophomore, Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni earned an increase in minutes in 2013-14. Olaseni played 16.7 minutes per game last season, posting averages of 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Obviously the goal for most players in the offseason is to improve enough to warrant more opportunities, and that’s the case for Olaseni.
However there’s a bit of a road block in front of the rising senior on the form of starting center Adam Woodbury, and in a story written by Don Doxsie of the Quad-City Times moving to the power forward spot may be Olaseni’s best route to more playing time. But with that desire comes the need to show he’s capable of handling the responsibilities that may differ from one position to the other, and that’s something Olaseni’s aims to do this summer.
That would be another first. Olaseni never has played a second at any position other than center in a game at any level, but he’s excited at the prospect of being a four instead of a five.
“I think I can definitely play the four,” he said following a game in the Prime Time summer league. “I know I can guard fours. I just need to show offensively that I can space the floor and hit the mid-range shot, stuff like that.”
With Roy Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe having graduated there are two openings in the Iowa starting lineup, with Woodbury, point guard Mike Gesell and forward Aaron White being the incumbents. Who slides into those open roles? Olaseni may be one option in the front court, but also to be considered is junior forward Jarrod Uthoff.
In his first season as a Hawkeye, Uthoff provided 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game off the bench and from an offensive standpoint may be the best bet for that forward position especially when considering the loss of their leading scorer (Marble). The good thing for Iowa is that they have depth, as ten players averaged double figures in minutes last season and seven of those players will return in 2014-15.