"What I have learned from my parents, family, teammates and coaches is that through good times and bad, we are loyal. I have also learned that we work to reach our goals, we overcome setbacks and we go beyond our potential. It is those lessons of loyalty that have led me to the decision to play basketball for the University of Iowa."
CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia. - He didn’t try to fake anyone out by picking up one college ball cap before putting on another. In fact, there were no hats to be seen here at Washington High School. A Skype connection was nowhere to be found.
Josh Oglesby handled the announcement of his college choice with class. He thanked everyone from his parents to his elementary school coaches. Family, friends and coaches filled the small room along with a group of reporters.
None of this came as a surprise. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Oglesby has carried himself with class through the recruiting process.
After I got a text from him on Sunday saying he wasn’t visiting Illinois, I tweeted that he had eliminated them from his schools of interest. A few minutes later, he called me and told me the Illini pulled his scholarship offer. That was a first.
Often times, recruits will fudge their way around giving a reason for why a school dropped from their list when the scholarship was removed. It’s a hit to their ego. Not Oglesby.
Oglesby explained that Illinois Coach Bruce Weber told him he would not tell anyone he yanked the offer. Josh was free to cover it up. He decided the right thing to do was tell the truth. And he reached out to me to do it.
For all the hand-wringing that’s occurred while waiting for Iowa to land its first member of the 2011 Class (it was the last Big Ten school to do so), New Hawkeye Coach Fran McCaffery snags a good one - on and off the court. Oglesby represents the best that our great state has to offer - more substance than flash, more humble than ego driven.
Josh Oglesby also brings in a pretty nice on-court game. Scout.com ranks him as the 38th best shooting guard in his class, nationally. Most recruiting services place him in their Top 125 overall in the country.
Combine his attitude and game with the public outcry we’d have seen had he chose Minnesota or Arizona State means this is a home run for McCaffery. It’s not a Harrison Barnes homer as far as talent. Nobody in his right mind would suggest that. But you have to walk before you run.
Oglesby talked on Wednesday about being upset when Iowa would lose when he was a kid. He made reference to Dean Oliver and Jeff Horner as guys to which he looked up.
Let’s put that on perspective.
Iowa’s last NCAA victory came in 2001. Dean Oliver was the point guard. Oglesby was eight. It’s not been a good run for the Hawkeyes.
I certainly wouldn’t have blamed Oglesby for heading to Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers. Herb Sendek is doing some real nice things at Arizona State. You could make a compelling argument that those programs are ahead of Iowa right now without much trouble.
Some people might say that it was the easy decision for Josh to stay home. I think it was hard and took a huge amount of belief on his part that McCaffery would get things turned around in Iowa City. Some might call it blind faith.
Oglesby, if only for a day or so, gave a wounded fan base reason to believe that things would get better. He talked about working on Class of 2012 in-state standouts Marcus Paige and Adam Woodbury to help him get the Hawkeyes back to prominence.
I certainly don’t want to knock Josh’s AAU teammate Jarrod Uthoff, who earlier this summer chose Wisconsin ahead of Iowa. The Cedar Rapids Jefferson High star felt better about where the Badgers stood as a program. A player gets four years to enjoy this experience and he has to do what he feels is best for him.
That said, Oglesby chose to stay home and rebuild.
“I feel that the state of Iowa has the talent to make Coach McCaffery’s vision a reality,” he said. “It is my hope that those players as well as the true Hawkeye basketball fans get back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and make it a reality starting now.”
Some fans were upset with Oglesby that he didn’t jump on Iowa’s offer when it came in late July. They didn’t see why he needed to take official visits if he grew up a Hawkeye fan.
It turned out to be a matter of circumstance. Former Coach Todd Lickliter didn’t recruit Oglesby. McCaffery needed time to decide if the player fit his system before offering a scholarship. By that time, programs like Minnesota and Arizona State already had made headway in their pursuit.
I truly believe that Oglesby was up in the air heading into his official visits. I’m glad he saw what he needed to see and found out that home was where his heart was.
This makes the commitment to Iowa even stronger. He looked around and discovered faith in the Hawkeyes.
Iowa needed this one. It showed signs of hope, for now and possibly the future. It could be a big step in putting the recent past behind the Hawkeye faithful.
Audio of Oglesby Announcement
Audio of Oglesby explaining decision
Video of Oglesby explaining decision
Video of Oglesby announcing decision