Aug 28, 2013
LONDON, England — Playing basketball in front of family and friends in a University of Iowa uniform was a dream come true for Gabriel Olaseni and his family. Olaseni and the Hawkeye men’s basketball team traveled to Europe in August, which included a stop in Olaseni’s hometown of London.
“This meant everything to me,” said the Hawkeye junior. “I couldn’t have dreamed for a better atmosphere. Every time I stepped off the court, all I could think about was my teammates and family. When coach (Fran) McCaffery told us he was taking us to London earlier this year, I was over the moon. I’m forever grateful to the coaching staff for giving me an opportunity to play here.”
Olaseni started both games at Copper Box in the Olympic Village, averaging 12.5 points in a pair of convincing victories over the London Lions.
“These memories will last a long time and that’s priceless,” said Olaseni’s mother, Yvette. “We can’t say how much we appreciate coach McCaffery bringing the team to England. This was a dream come true. (Gabriel) appreciates how much this means for us to see him in an Iowa shirt.”
The fact that Olaseni played well in both games pleased McCaffery.
“I’m thrilled for him that he was able to do it in this atmosphere of 6,000 people in his hometown,” McCaffery said.
Yvette expressed how wonderful it was to meet her son’s teammates in person.
“I follow most of the games and know most of the players,” said Yvette. “Seeing them in person for the first time is fantastic. (Gabriel) talks about them all the time.”
Olaseni’s father, Benson, was smiling ear-to-ear both nights watching his son compete.
“Watching our son play on the Internet or television is not the same as a live event,” said Benson. “Seeing the speed and athletic ability in person is fantastic. Nothing can beat a live event.”
During the Hawkeyes’ regular season, Olaseni’s mother said she watches as many games as she can online, despite the time difference.
“I usually stay up quite late watching the games,” said Yvette. “The games are fun to watch and it’s rewarding seeing our son have so much fun with his teammates.”
Yvette added that she couldn’t be more blessed for her son to have the opportunity to play basketball and earn an education at an institution like the University of Iowa.
“We’re a family that respects education,” Yvette said. “We always insist on education, and the fact that Iowa chose him to play basketball and study is absolutely fantastic. We can’t think of a better scenario.
“(Gabriel is) such a hard worker. He’s always wanted this.”
Olaseni’s family was unable to follow the team to France after the Hawkeyes’ visit to London, but plans are in the works for a visit to United States.
“We are hoping to come to America at some point to come visit him in Iowa City and see him live,” said Yvette.