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March 1, 2013

Basabe's Journey

If there is one player on the Iowa basketball roster that fits well into the idea of a journey, it is Melsahn Basabe.

The junior forward from Glen Cove, NY originally committed to and signed with Siena out of high school. When Fran McCaffery left Siena and took the head coaching position with the Hawkeyes, he brought his prized recruit with him and started their Iowa journey together.

This weekend, immediately following Iowa's game on Saturday night against Indiana, the award winning Big Ten Network series "The Journey" will feature Basabe and his time at Iowa.

"He was recruited to Siena and committed to them and then switched to Iowa when Coach McCaffery went there, so there is a real interesting bond between them. He is also a guy who has had an interesting path in his three years at Iowa," said Bill Friedman, coordinating producer for BTN original productions.

The Big Ten Network spent three days in Iowa City this week following Basabe around campus, in practice, and during Iowa's win over Purdue on Wednesday night.

"It's been kind of weird," Basabe said following the Purdue game. "They have been following me around and the cameras always feel like they are on top of you, but it's good. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out and I feel honored just be part of the program."

Basabe's Iowa career fits well with the theme of a journey. He jumped on to the stage with an outstanding freshman year, averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds a game and earning a spot on the All Freshman team in the Big Ten Conference.

Then the sophomore slump hit in his second season and Basabe's numbers dropped to 8 points and 5 rebounds per game. This season he earned back his spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while playing 18 minutes a contest.

"He kind of burst onto the scene in his freshman year and was one of the better freshmen in the Big Ten. Then last year, with the whole thing about putting on weight and I think everyone concluded that wasn't the right path for him," Friedman said. "The thing that jumped out at us was how honest and forthcoming both he and Coach McCaffery were about his ups an downs at Iowa."

That Basabe is honest and forthcoming should not come as a surprise to Iowa fans or anyone who has met him.

"I think I'm pretty good at talking to people," Basabe said. "I was just honest with him and told them that Coach McCaffery gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and I am very appreciative of that."

There also might be a mention of one of the trademark phrases that Iowa fans have become familiar with in the past three years, "Slime Time."

"They asked me about it," Basabe said with a laugh. "I told them that it comes from my neighborhood and me and my friends use it. It's kind of caught on here at Iowa and now I hear it all the time from my friends and teammates."


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