Don't write off Melsahn Basabe, Iowa basketball fans

Junior-to-be could be big part of Hawkeyes' attack

Melsahn Basabe with a dunk vs. Illinois in March's Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
Melsahn Basabe with a dunk vs. Illinois in March's Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

NORTH LIBERTY -- This is just a blurb from the Prime Time League Tuesday night. I watched Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe play and thought he looked pretty determined and hungry.

Last season wasn't what Basabe had in mind for himself.

He was supposed to be the top player for the 2011-12 Iowa men's basketball team. None other than his coach, Fran McCaffery, suggested last October that he had double-double (double-digit averages in points and rebounds).

It didn't happen. Not even close. Basabe was on and off, and when he was off he was off. His season-averages were 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds, down from his freshman-year norms of 11.0 and 6.8 that created the expectations for him. He played four minutes less per game, and his field goal percentage dropped from .572 to .524.

As other players emerged, most particularly fellow power forward Aaron White, Basabe was no longer considered a team focal point.

But this guy has two seasons left and has the same skills he has always possessed. Tuesday in his 2012 Prime Time League-opener, he looked like a hungry, determined player to me. It was just one night, one night five months from the start of his junior season. But I didn't see bad attitude. Rather, I saw someone who seemed determined and hungry.

Jarryd Cole was a senior teammate to Basabe in Basabe's freshman season, and is his PTL teammate this summer.

"His freshman year, he was a huge force," Cole said. "Sophomore year, he had a lot more responsibility. A lot more is asked of you. You have to be mentally able to take that on. You have to work on that, it's not something that's just given.

"Melsahn is a very skilled player, we can all see that. He's very athletic, he can knock down a jump shot, he's a decent ballhandler. I just think once he's able to put it all together mentally with taking more responsibility of being an upperclassman now ... last year he was supposed to be a go-to player. I think that whenever he does take on that responsibility and figures out how to use that to his advantage, then he's going to be dominant."



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