Oct. 28, 2010
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By PATRICK SOJKA
IOWA CITY, Iowa ¬– University of Iowa freshman Melsahn Basabe never thought he would be a member of the Hawkeye men’s basketball team, but now he is thankful for the opportunity.
Basabe, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward from Glen Cove, N.Y., originally planned to play for head coach Fran McCaffery at Siena. When McCaffery took a similar position at Iowa, Basabe made the switch as well.
“I was really impressed with the facilities and the people when I came on my visit with my mother,” said Basabe. “Once I came here in the summer, I started to get acclimated to the university. I have been enjoying it. I think this is a beautiful place, friendly community and good environment. I am definitely glad I made the decision to come here.”
McCaffery is delighted to have such a talented basketball player join him in Iowa City.
“Melsahn Basabe is a young man of phenomenal character and great personality,” noted McCaffery. “He is an incredibly talented person — a long-armed shot-blocker; a runner and dunker who has a legitimate low-post game offensively. Melsahn has a great work ethic and clearly he’s going to be an impact player and one of the best freshmen in our league.”
Basabe, a team captain as a prep senior, is expected to be a key contributor during his first season at Iowa. The former St. Mark’s standout is already holding himself to a higher standard than most incoming freshmen.
“My first year I want to be able to make an impact and contribute,” said Basabe. “I want to play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I’m not going to accept being a freshman; I am going to hold myself to a higher standard, whatever that is: rebounding, blocking shots, scoring or passing. I want to be an all-around player. From this year, to the next year, to the year after, I want to keep getting better and better. You can never be satisfied.”
” Melsahn Basabe is a young man of phenomenal character and great personality. He is an incredibly talented person — a long-armed shot-blocker; a runner and dunker who has a legitimate low-post game offensively. Melsahn has a great work ethic and clearly he’s going to be an impact player and one of the best freshmen in our league.”
UI head coach
The pre-business major is enjoying the Hawkeye coaching staff and he is appreciative of their support. Basabe knows they will help him get better and reach his goals.
“I really appreciate the way (assistant) coach (Kirk) Speraw challenges me,” Basabe said. “He makes you think about yourself and being accountable. I enjoy (assistant) coach (Andrew) Francis because he does the same, both on and off the court. He is feeding me information on being a good young man and a good basketball player. The same goes with coach McCaffery and (assistant) coach (Sherman) Dillard. I wasn’t familiar with coach Dillard before I got here, but I have really enjoyed him; we have made a great connection.”
Basabe, who will wear No. 1 for the Hawkeyes, says he enjoys the family atmosphere of the UI basketball program.
“I’m connecting well with everyone involved in the program,” Basabe said. “There are a lot of people I enjoy here. The basketball team is like my family, so I am enjoying it.”
Basabe, who averaged 13 points and nine rebounds last season for his high school team, is comfortable in an up-tempo style that McCaffery employs.
“This is the offense I have been playing all my life,” said Basabe. “I’m from New York and nobody is slowing it down in New York. That’s what I want to do and that is why I came here. Every team I have been on has played like this. I have been on teams that have run people out of the gym; we have to work toward that. We’ve been working hard and we have been doing conditioning and emphasizing running and endurance. I’m excited to play in this system.”
Basabe, who played for the highly-regarded New York Gauchos AAU squad, holds the Hawkeye coaching staff in high regard.
“I’m trying to improve my understanding of basketball,” said Basabe. “I started off teaching myself the game. I was fortunate in high school to receive good coaching and learn some basketball principles. The coaching staff has been doing a good job trying to help me with my basketball I.Q. and getting more familiar with the game.”
McCaffery is a positive influence for Basabe.
“Coach Fran has been helping me every day,” added Basabe. “He always has positive encouragement. He wants the best for you as a player and for you to reach your maximum potential. I have confidence in the staff and you can’t ask for more than that. When you believe in the staff and they believe in you, there is nothing better.”
Basabe, who notched 30 points in a high school playoff game last season, is chomping at the bit to play his first career game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“That is going to be crazy,” he said. “I never thought I would be playing Big Ten basketball. When I was growing up, I never pictured myself at Iowa. I know people back home will be watching. It’s exciting, and it is definitely going to be a great experience.”