Oglesby's English Tipped Off Seniors' Bond

During their final press conference before their last home game, Iowa Seniors Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni and Josh Oglesby shared some laughs and thoughts on the bond that holds them together on Thursday.

Iowa CITY, Iowa Gabe Olaseni told the story first Thursday. Aaron White corroborated it. Josh Oglesby was embarrassed.

The good natured scene encapsulated well the strong bond between Iowa's three, four-year scholarship seniors. They laughed with and at each other with no hard feelings as their final college home game approached this Saturday (Northwestern, 11 a.m. CT, BTN).

Four years ago, while at a local eatery, Oglesby, straight-faced, asked Olaseni, a London native, if he spoke the language much before coming to American. He'd only been in the country for about a year at the time.

Unbeknownst to Oglesby, who might be viewed as a cross between Joey from the TV series Friends and Yogi Berra, they speak English in London, the capital of England.

"From that point on, I was like, wow, this guy might not be sharpest tool in the shed but he's definitely kind-hearted. So, very early on, I knew that we were friends for life," Olaseni said.

White and Oglesby were instrumental in helping Olaseni deal with the passing of his father early in the season. As the trio talked about their relationship Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, you could sense their connection equalled chemistry on and off the court.

"We've really become close over the years as you can probably tell," White said. "We're all really different personalities as well but we've really meshed together."

Former walk-on Kyle Denning is the fourth member of the senior class set to be honored during Saturday's pre-game ceremony. The quartet enters the contest with 58 home wins, the most in program history for a class, according to Iowa Sports Information.

"It's been unique and awesome at the same time," Cedar Rapids native Oglesby said of the bond. "Gabe is pretty much the first person from overseas I've been friends with. The coolest thing about it was to be able to go to London (in the summer of 2013) to see the lifestyle he lived.

"Our friendship has built a lot over the four years. I can honestly say I wouldn't want to play with a better group of guys. Our friendship, I feel like, will last for a lifetime."

The Hawkeyes (20-10 overall, 11-6 Big Ten) are attempting to be the first team in school history to win six regular-season games in a row since the 1986-87 season. Their five consecutive victories represent the most since '96-97.

Iowa has come a long way since winning 11 games the year before this senior class arrived. That was McCaffery's first at the school.

White has received a lot of attention for the resurgence but he's quick to credit previous team captains like Matt Gatens, Eric May and Devyn Marble. White has earned third-team Big Ten honors the last two seasons and has put himself in position to make the top squad this year. Those accomplishments have ranked behind what he's achieved with his classmates.

"The most proud I am is how much the program has changed in my four years since I've been here. I'm not putting that on my shoulders but I think we had a big part of it. Especially my last two years here, we've really turned it around, not only locally, but nationally," White said.

The Hawkeyes appear locked into their second NCAA Tournament in a row after being out of it for seven years. They've won at least 20 games for the third consecutive season, the longest run since the late '90s.

White, Olaseni and Oglesby all are playing some of the best basketball in their careers down the stretch of their final season. Saturday, they'll try to avenge their last lost, a 66-61 overtime setback at Northwestern on Feb. 15, and add to their legacy.

"I just want (the Iowa fans) to look at us a group of guys that improved every year," Olaseni said. "I hope they look at us as winners and a group that gave its all to help the team."

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