Hawks freshman Basabe turning heads

2010-06-20T22:52:00Z Hawks freshman Basabe turning headsSteve Batterson The Quad-City Times
June 20, 2010 10:52 pm  • 

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - Melsahn Basabe says he never was big on quiet introductions.

The incoming freshman on the Iowa basketball team introduced himself to fans attending his Prime Time League debut last week with a thundering dunk.

He went on to finish that game in the summer basketball league with 36 points and nine rebounds. For an encore Sunday at the North Liberty Community Center, Basabe scored 38 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and rallied his team from a 23-point deficit to an overtime win.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward isn't just a high-wire act, although coach Fran McCaffery's first recruit brings an entirely different level of athleticism to the Hawkeyes program.

In Sunday's PTL performance, Basabe displayed the versatility that made him an attractive recruit for McCaffery, first at Siena and again after McCaffery became Iowa's new coach.

He blocked shots. He handled the ball. He rebounded on both ends of the floor and made solid decisions on the run while benefiting from the experience of one of his teammates, Jake Koch of Northern Iowa.

"That is the way I play. In everything I do, I feel like I have to prove myself each and every day. That's been my life. I never settle for average," Basabe said.

Matt Gatens, who found himself on the opposing team from Basabe on Sunday, is seeing that on a daily basis in pickup games as he gets to know his new teammate.

"Melsahn is impressive," Gatens said. "He does a little bit of everything and he does things well. He knocked down plenty of free throws tonight, but he's a good shooter and plays hard all of the time. He's intense."

Basabe, a Glen Cove, N.Y., native who prepped at St. Mark's School in Massachusetts, maintains that he is attempting to ease his way into the college game.

He understands that he needs to gain strength if he is going to be successful competing in the Big Ten, and he joins his teammates in 6 a.m. weightlifting sessions three days each week this summer.

He's taking one course and participating in six hours of mandatory study table each week as well, acclimating himself to the academic challenges he will face.

"I'm taking things one day at a time, trying to enjoy it and keep it simple," Basabe said. "This is a big change for me, coming out here from New York, new school, new team. I'm not in it alone. Devyn (Marble) and Zach (McCabe) are going through it, too, and we're getting all settled in."

That includes on the court, where returning Iowa players are encouraging their new teammates to be aggressive and make the most out of any opportunity they get.

"They want us to get after it, and I like that. What people are seeing is how I play the game," Basabe said.

"I feel a lot better about (Sunday's) game than my first one because we won this one. I'm a warrior, a competitor who is never satisfied. I'm always working for that next basket or rebound."

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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