The Pro-File – Olu Ashaolu, Three Quarters In

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We come back with another edition of The Pro-File this time with our man Olu Ashaolu checking in from Japan talking the play off push and playing in the all star game right here …

Toronto's Olu Ashaolu. (PHOTO: Hamamatsu Phoenix

Toronto’s Olu Ashaolu. (PHOTO: Hamamatsu Phoenix)

In case you didn’t know who he is, Olu Ashaolu is one of the many Canadian basketball players playing professionally around the world.  He was a very highly touted high school player coming out of Christian Life Center Academy in Humble, TX.  He would end up at Louisiana Tech University where he would earn Honorable Mention All Western Athletic Conference as a Junior (averaging 14.2 pts, 9.4 rebs, 1.6 asts and 1 stl per game) before transferring to Oregon for his senior season.  As a Duck in 2011-12, he would be a key player off the bench for Coach Dana Altman averaging 9.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg in 20 minutes plus a few vicious highlights like this and these too.  After a stint in Spain he played last year in France for ALM Evreux where’s he’s averaged 13.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1 spg in 23.1 mpg in his 50 games. Olu is currently playing for the Hamamatsu-Higashi Mikawa Phoenix in Japan where he’s averaging 14.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals in 24.1 minutes over his team’s 38 games.  Check out his second instalment of The Pro-File from the land of the rising sun …

What’s going on everyone? It’s yours truly checking in once again with another entry from Japan!

Today is March 7th. I’ve been here since August 23rd.  If you do the math, that’s 196 days. I’ve still got about 84 to go. You can clearly see coming home is on my mind but my team is currently in a 3-way tie for first place so at the moment, nothing is more important that finishing the job at hand.

With only 16 games remaining from the 52-game regular season, most teams sort of know where they will end up as the season finishes up. Will they be a top seed? Will they have home court advantage? Will they be in a fight for the last few playoff spots or will they going fishing with kayaks for fishing reviews as soon as the season’s over? I think they already read The 3 Best Catfish Reels Reviewed & Revealed ( 2018 Hands-on Guide ) for the next trip.

I’ve been blessed to be on a competitive team in my two-year career as a pro. My previous two teams fell in the semi finals of the playoffs to the eventual champs in both Spain and France.  This year as a group we have one goal: to bring the title back to the Hamamatsu Phoenix. This organization has secured 2 championships in the past 5 seasons, so the club is no stranger to winning. A few of my teammates were on those teams that won ‘The Ring’ so they have already tasted the glory; I have yet to win a ‘chip on the professional stage and with the squad we have this year, it would be a disappointment if we let this opportunity slip away.

When your team is competitive, you know you have a chance to win each game; unfortunately not everyone has that luxury. I have some counterparts whose teams aren’t doing so well and they vent to me about the frustrations of going through the practice week preparing for a team that is clearly much stronger and much more talented. Perhaps their teams are equally talented but are being out-coached. Who knows? Whatever the reason, it can drain on anyone to be in a slump or be apart of a losing culture.

But upsets do happen. Let’s look back at the 2014 NCAA tournament where No.14 Mercer knocked off Duke. The spread for a No.14 team to beat a No.3 had to vastly be in the favor of the No.3 team. And to make matters worse, this wasn’t just any number 3 team; we’re talking about Duke. Coach K. The guy has over 1000 collegiate wins, the first head coach to ever accomplish the feat!

So nothing is impossible. We’ve recently had two tough weekends where we were down significantly early on in the contest but we pulled together and chipped away at the lead. You cannot make up the deficit in a few possessions, it takes making a few runs on offense, getting key stops on defense and remaining positive in the face of adversity. That’s what Cleaners do.

Oh, sorry. Define Cleaner? Well before I do that, you’ve got to understand the origin of the word.

I have been reading a book that was suggested to me by a former college assistant coach of mine. The book is written by famed author and Michael Jordan’s’ personal trainer during his illustrious years in Chicago, Tim Grover. The book is titled Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

In this blueprint to become your personal best, he describes 3 types of players:

Cooler – Cooler is a follower who “can make a huge play, but he’s ultimately not responsible for the outcome.”
Closer – A Closer “can handle a lot of pressure” and will perform effectively if his task is clearly defined.
Cleaner – A Cleaner is the ultimate competitor who has an “insatiable addiction to success.

I have yet to finish the book but I suggest to anyone who’s interested in being his or her personal best, it is a good read.  As a matter fact, let me finish this entry up and knock out a few chapters.

To the competition: If you’re reading this, it’s too late. #DrizzyPun

On another note, I’m not sure how many of you if any know but I was selected as a reserve in the BJ League All Star Game this year! I was also voted in to compete in the slam dunk contest.

(PHOTO:  Olu Ashaolu)

(PHOTO: Olu Ashaolu)

If you know me personally, I’m no fan of participating in dunk-offs. They aren’t really my thing. I dunk off adrenaline and really get up when I see an opponent challenging me at the rim. For me to just jump and attempt to compete with the Zach Lavines of the world is just preposterous…but if he jumps with me, oh please, he and many others will end up on the wrong side of a poster.

As far as the All Star game itself, it was fun to play with all the other top players that you have competed against throughout the season. It’s a chance to reunite with old friends, see new faces and enjoy the festivities. Our Western Conference squad didn’t play it as a friendly match. My head coach was the All Star game coach as well and as a group, we wanted to win.

I finished the game with 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 dunks. I was in contention for MVP honours but was edged out by my teammate who finished with 21 points. All in all it was a great opportunity and was glad I could have been apart of it.

Until the next time,

God Bless & Sayonara.

A big shout to our man Olu for giving a look into his life as a professional basketball player abroad.  You can also keep tabs on what he is up to over in Japan by following him on Twitter @O_Ash, on his own personal blog, by Instagram @o_ash and of course by check back with us here. 

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