Aaron White won't be the only former Hawkeye at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas this summer -- his former teammate, London's own Gabe Olaseni, will be there as well, having signed a free agent deal with the Miami Heat to play for their Summer League team.
Olaseni's deal with the Heat only lasts through Summer League -- he'll need to perform well there to earn an invite to an NBA training camp next fall. Gabe earned Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year honors last season, capping off a career that saw him improve in leaps and bounds. He arrived at Iowa as an raw project, blessed with tremendous athleticism but not much in the way of basketball experience or refined skills. He left Iowa as a legitimate post presence and key contributor for an NCAA Tournament squad. That was one heck of a transformation that we were able to witness over the last few years; hopefully he can ride it even further and earn himself a spot in the NBA.
Olaseni will have some intra-state company this summer -- ex-UNI standout Seth Tuttle was also picked up by the Heat to be a part of their Summer League squad. Perhaps the two big men can commiserate over the lack of Panchero's in Las Vegas while they battle for a roster spot.
And there may indeed be room for a Summer League standout to earn a spot in the Heat's rotation of bigs next year. The Heat didn't add a big man in the draft this year (they went with a pair of wings, Duke's Justise Winslow and Tennesee's Josh Richardson) and they currently have four PF/C under contract for next season: Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Anderson. Surprisingly, the player that was arguably their best big last year (mainly due to Bosh's injury, but still), Hassan Whiteside, is not under contract for 2015-16, although the Heat are expected to re-sign him. Bosh and Whiteside figure to be the top two bigs for the Heat next season (assuming Whiteside is in fact re-signed), but that's fine -- Olaseni isn't exactly competing for a spot with them. He's not really competing for a spot with McRoberts, either, who's more of a stretch four and more apt to hang around the perimeter than bang down low.
No, Gabe is competing for a spot with the bigs further down the depth chart, which is where things get more interesting. Haslem (35) and Anderson (36) are both old, so the Heat would probably like to add some young legs to their mix of big men. There have been rumors that the Heat would like to trade away Anderson and Haslem for salary cap relief as well (combined, the duo is set to make almost $8 million this year), which could further boost Olaseni's odds of making the team if he can shine in Summer League. By no means is Gabe assured a roster spot in South Beach next fall -- but you can see a possible path there for the taking if he can impress in Summer League. Give 'em hell, Gabe.