Every summer, there are a few players who explode into the consciousness of basketball fans all over the nation. This year, Olek Czyz is going to be one of those guys.
People often ask how a player who is tremendously talented go so unnoticed…and that is a good question. In this instance, Olek has played for the Las Vegas Prospects for the past 3 summers in AAU competitions. The Prospects were loaded last year and Olek was a year behind another top PF in Luke Babbitt. The funny thing is that last year, Babbitt was also a guy who flew up the charts as the summer progressed. Imagine being a scout last summer in June when you see Olek sitting on the bench behind a guy who you think isn’t all that good either. It could make anyone fail to notice a kid in that situation.
The great thing about this situation is that although the coaches with the Las Vegas Top Prospects have been telling everyone that Olek was a player, nobody believed them. You would have thought that they had learned a lesson after missing out on Babbitt, but most didn’t. Prior to UK offering Olek, his list included schools like Arizona St., Washington State, Colorado State, Santa Clara, Nevada and Pepperdine. Colorado State should be noted in this instance since the founder of the Las Vegas Top Prospects entire program is now an assistant coach at that university. Still, most people now realize that Olek is going to be a High Major…even ELITE…player. Here is why:
Olek is super athletic. He tries to dunk everything. He is not scared of ANYONE and that is a great advantage for a 6’8″ kid who has a 40 inch vertical leap. At one point at Pangos AA camp, I told Olek that he was about to go up against a great post defender/dunker (Storm Warren) and he said, “What number is he, I want him to remember me.” You have to love that about the guy. Olek also moves well laterally and has small feet for a guy his size. This allows him to be more mobile on the perimeter than most PF’s and makes most coaches feel that he will be able to guard the SF spot if needed on occasion.
Olek’s best attribute in my opinion is his work ethic. The kid is always among the first person up and down the court and he is relentless with his effort. His motor will not quit and his desire to compete is exceptional. During UK’s elite camp, during the drill stations the first night, Coach Gillispie reportedly asked if Olek always works so hard. He found out for certain the next day as Olek dominated overall top 3 player of 2009, Demarcus Cousins. His desire to compete makes him a good defender, although he will want to add some muscle to his frame during the next year. Regardless of physique, which is neither skinny nor muscular, Olek has a natural strength and determination which makes him an effective post defender. He is not a natural shot blocker by instinct, but will likely block some shots during his career due to desire and defensive positioning.
Olek also has some range on his shot. I have seen him shoot the 3 a few times and he is above average for a post player, although that is not where his game is special. He is also effective from mid range, although he does have the tendency to attack the rim when he is within striking distance as opposed to shoot the jumper. He has a nice jump hook that he shoots with either hand and when mixed with a 40 inch vertical, it is a formidable scoring weapon. Olek is also very crafty around the rim. He scores with a variety of post moves with either hand. He has decent footwork which will improve as he enters a high major basketball program and is immersed in practices and drills. His IQ for the game is also high which shows in his ability to pass the ball from the post.
Obviously, UK has had some experience with Polish players and that will likely be a factor. I know that Woo was in town and spoke to Olek at length throughout the Elite Camp visit. I am sure that Woo’s experience playing for the Wildcats was shared with Olek and most of us here know how Woo feels about his Cats!
UK may be the first high major program to offer Olek, but they will not be the last. Internet rumors are already swirling about interest from UNC, Duke, UF and other top programs. I can not confirm these rumors, but they certainly do not surprise me. Any coach who ignores a player this good should be fired.
Kentucky Sports Radio & www.ukuncensored.com