NORTH LIBERTY — Aaron White is too skinny, and he knows it. Josh Oglesby hears the same criticisms. Aside from his thick English accent, Gabe Olaseni has limitations as well.
All three incoming Iowa freshmen have potential, which Iowa coaches hold to mold into productive Big Ten basketball players. But getting there isn’t easy.
White, a 6-foot-8 forward from Strongsville, Ohio, drinks up to four Powerade protein shakes each day. He has gained six pounds since arriving on campus earlier this month and now weighs 220 pounds. He’d like to weigh 230 by the start of the season.
“As I increase my weight, I’ll get more comfortable down low,” he said. “I’m comfortable in my game, I’m confident in my game.”
Oglesby, a 6-5 shooting guard, also wants to bulk up this summer. He’s gained eight pounds but still weighs just 192 pounds. He eats five meals a day, drinks protein shakes the way older men drink coffee and lifts weights four times a week.
“They haven’t really told me what they want me to get up to. They told me that they want me to put on weight for sure,” said Oglesby, an all-state player from Cedar Rapids Washington. “I’m hoping by this season, by next basketball season, I’m up to 200.”
Olaseni, a 6-10 post player who played last year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan., said he has plenty to work on before the season. He’s playing a limited role off the bench in the Prime Time League and wants to develop in every area this summer.
“Defense, rebounding, jump shots, everything from top to bottom,” Olaseni said.
Oglesby drives almost daily from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City or North Liberty for weight lifting sessions. He wasn’t able to enroll early because of a poor math grade this spring, which keeps him away from team activities. It also led to the ire of Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery.
“I had a meeting with him a couple of months ago because he was disappointed in my math grade,” Oglesby said. “I got it up by the end of the year, and I had a meeting with him. He chewed me out for a good 20, 30 minutes and then after that … he said he didn’t offer me a scholarship to come in my freshman year and be a star my senior year. He said he wants me to play next year.”
Oglesby averaged 21.1 points a game for Washington last year. He’s an outside shooter, and that’s the role McCaffery wants him to perfect.
At Washington, Oglesby fought through constant traffic to find openings. He said adjusting to the speed and physical play in the Prime Time League has helped him understand which areas he needs to improve upon before the season.
“Just adapting to get my shot off quicker,” Oglesby said. “Coach McCaffery told me I needed to do that.”
White averaged 23.1 points and 11.9 rebounds a game last year in the Cleveland area. He’s slated to compete for playing time at both forward spots. One week into the PTL, White credited the league and its older players for helping him realize what Big Ten play will be like. He’s also working on his ball handling so he can become more comfortable playing small forward.
“Guys out here are a lot older than I am,” White said. “It’s a little bit more physical (than AAU or high school ball) but the speed of the game is good for me. (Darryl) Moore is stronger than he looks, and then (Duez) Henderson is obviously a grown man.”
Olaseni is an athletic marvel who averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game last year. He’s shot blocker and admits he’s a work in progress. He does like McCaffery’s style of play and thinks he’ll fit in well in Iowa’s system.
“I love running the floor, just outrunning people,” he said. “If I get like a rebound or a blocked shot, just run down and start the offense really.”
Olaseni also gets some good-natured ribbing from his teammates about his accent.
“We joke around with him all the time with some of the words, the different slang that people in London use compared to America,” White said. “He’s funny and kind of hard to understand sometimes.”