|BC freshman Olivier Hanlan left Canada to find top competition.|
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He had to, to get noticed, have coaches see him. There weren’t many willing to trek up to Quebec to see one point guard with promise, though there were some. Once he moved to New Hampton, once he played against better competition, interest picked up.
BC already had made inroads. Donahue and Smart have known each other for years, and Donahue had known of Hanlan since Hanlan was 15 years old. So, after two years in prep school, Hanlan decided to head to BC.
“It’s a perfect fit,” Smart said. “It’s a perfect fit for Steve and it’s a perfect fit for Olivier.”
It used to be that, for intrepid coaches with heavy parkas, Canada was a place to make a find. Donahue recalled a 6-foot-10-inch player he nabbed his first year at Cornell who likely would have gone to the Big East if he had been born in the United States.
That doesn’t happen so much anymore. Though the competition remains scattered, the talents are known, found and channeled into the national team programs, as Hanlan was.
Still, as Donahue said, “The fact of the matter is if Olivier was in a major city early in his life in the States, we would have a difficult time getting him. I just think there would have been a lot more recruitment.”
And there would have been more competition. As it was, he did the best he could. BC did the best it could, to evaluate Hanlan.
“That’s hard, but it’s something I think we always try to do,” Donahue said. “I think you can get yourself a very good player if you work at that. It’s going to be 1 out of 1,000, but you’ve got to work at it.”
From that work, that evaluation, BC appears to have found a skilled point guard, a cerebral player still working on his shot, who has built up his athleticism and strength to rank among the strongest on the current roster.
“He’s someone that we saw had very good athletic ability, but I think what separated him for us is his great basketball IQ,” Donahue said. “That’s kind of rare to get a good athletic point guard who really understands the game, and I think Olivier does.”
It’s what his father was hoping for when he bought him that basketball, what Smart saw when he first began coaching him, and what Dominique nurtured with those workouts stolen from Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams and Steve Nash.
“We’ve been talking about playing college basketball in Division 1 and making the NBA since me and him were kids,” Dominique said. “It’s great to see him actually live our dream. It was my dream, it was his dream, it was my dad’s dream, to see us play.”
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.