Alex Olah came to Northwestern a soft spoken giant who had grown up in Timisoara, Romania, nearly 5,000 miles from Evanston. He leaves as a leader that not only transformed his own game, but that of his teammates as well. By default, Olah's 7-foot, 278-pound frame gives him a shot at sticking with an NBA roster. The question is, will his skillset that he showcased in Big Ten play be enough to compete with the world's best?
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What's going against Alex is the foot injury that nagged him throughout his senior year. Scouts and teams will factor in his injury when taking a look at his senior season, but Olah missed a great opportunity to log important minutes against Big Ten teams like Maryland and Wisconsin who have big time centers Diamond Stone and Ethan Happ.
Olah's minutes were also down due to the emergence of freshman Dererk Pardon, who held his coming out party in Olah's brief absence. Ultimately, Olah may have played less, but he was just as effective. His scoring totals remained the same and his field goal percentage was the highest of his career. A testament to Olah has been his consistency; rarely does he disappear from games, either impacting the game on the offensive or defensive end. He leaves Northwestern as the career blocks leader with 181.
Height: 7 foot 0
Weight: 278 pounds
Standing reach: N/A
No step vertical: N/A
The average NBA center is 6-foot-10, so Olah certainly passes the height test. At 278 pounds, he outweighs the average center by at least 20 pounds. Olah has the size to play in the NBA, he just needs to become stronger.
There's a lot to like about Olah. He's only been in the United State for six years, and his development both on and off the court was obvious. He became more comfortable with the American style of play and may continue to do so. On offense, Olah can back you into the post and finish with touch at the rim. He also has the ability to stretch the floor and hit a midrange shot, and even the occasional ambitious three. He has a little clutch factor in him.
On the defensive end, Olah's block totals don't nearly represent his impact. His presence in the paint keeps opposing teams on the perimeter, and he rarely gets in foul trouble, only fouling out once last season. He's also a leader.
Olah can be soft at times, quite simply. He needs to be more aggressive, dunk the ball instead of laying it up, and challenge smaller defenders at the rim. Although he was usually the tallest player of the game, he didn't dominate the boards like he should have. He'll need to be more active in the paint, especially on the defensive end. Also, Olah does not have terrific athleticism. Part of his struggles in the paint were against big men who were more physically talented than him — AJ Hammons of Purdue absolutely destroyed him. Although he would have the size advantage, Olah would lose the rebounding battle to smaller, more athletic big men. I'd like to see much more of this from Olah.
It would be very surprising to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call Olah's name Thursday evening. Neither NBA Draft Express or NBA Draft Net have Olah getting selected. There's a lot to like about Olah, including his experience playing against NBA talent. Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Mitch McGary, Draymond Green, and Frank Kaminsky come to mind. The NBA is too obsessed with unproven, foreign talent and young centers with freakish athleticism, neither of which fit Olah's resume. However, you can't teach size, and you can't teach the experience that Olah's gained in his four years at Northwestern. He should get a shot in summer league.