"He's a typical Big East player", said Ro Russell, Ashaolu's AAU coach up in Canada said. "He's athletic, he's long, he's versatile, and he competes his butt off", he said. Russell also added that Olu Ashaolu is a very good student, sporting a GPA in the 3.8, 3.9 range, and said Rutgers latest commit "is an intellectual". While there might have been some initial speculation Ashaolu would join Rutgers for the upcoming season, Russell said that although he's completed his core requirements, there is additional coursework he needs to complete, and thus will be a member of the '08 recruiting class.
"This is a pretty good get for RU as they try to rebuild their program and get to the upper level of the Big East", said Russell. "He's got a great work ethic, the drive and the ambition to play on the next level". Russell added that Ashaolu definitely has NBA potential. "He has the body for it, the aggressiveness, the toughness", he said. Russell said that Ashaolu's strengths are his slashing skills, his finishing ability, and in general his overall athletic skills.
Russell was asked about what was by some to be the perceived drop-off in Ashaolu's play this past year, and whether the horrific injuries suffered by his brother Sam in the now-infamous Duquesne shootings had anything to do with it. Russell was quite blunt: "I'd like to know if any top player could see that happen to a close family member and still be able to maintain the mentality, the commitment, and the focus in their game", he said. Russell also added that the demands of his team required him to play out of position at power forward, and that he'll be a natural wing for Rutgers.
Russell said that virtually every top 30-40 program tried to get involved with Ashaolu, and that in selecting RU, Ashaolu turned down offers from Georgia, LSU, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, and UConn, among others. He also said that recently Florida tried to get into the mix, but said that Fred Hill and assistant coach Darren Savino did "a very good job recruiting him". Russell also stated, when asked, that Olu Ashaolu's commitment to RU could indeed help trigger the snowball effect that the Rutgers coaches (and fans) are hoping happens.
"He's pretty good friends with Samardo Samuels", said Russell, "so
hopefully when Sam sees that Olu is going there, it will have a positive effect
on him". Russell also spoke of another name frequently mentioned by the
RU faithful: "He's friends with Devin Ebanks too". With Mike Rosario
and now Olu Ashaolu giving Fred Hill possibly the best start ever in an RU recruiting
class, it will indeed be most interesting how the rest of this class shapes
up. One thing is now for certain, and that is that Rutgers fans have every reason
to be very optimistic. Olu Ashaolu is potentially as good a recruit as RU has
ever landed, and RU's long-term basketball fortunes have never been brighter.