Olander: 'It's Like a Dream Come True'
Some quotes from Tyler Olander, who verbally committed to UConn at about 2:30 p.m. today:
"I’m very excited, I can’t wait to start. It’s like a dream come true growing up."
Olander, who grew up and still lives about five miles from the UConn campus, said he recalls shooting hoops in his driveway at age 7 with his brother, Ryan, dreaming about hitting a game-winning shot for UConn.
"Right now, it doesn't even feel like it's real," he said.
His favorite UConn player was Emeka Okafor, and he remembers "really admiring him, hearing a lot about his work ethic, and wanting to be just like him."
(Here's the full story on Olander's committment.)
Among the many suitors for Olander were Virginia, Wake Forest, Florida, Providence and URI.
He said he talked to Jim Calhoun this afternoon and Calhoun said he was "excited to have me on board and can’t wait to get things started."
Olander is 6-foot-9, 220 pounds and considers himself a "face-up four." His coach at E.O. Smith, Ron Pires, said he can put the ball on the floor, pass well and shoot the 3. Olander, in fact, was one of E.O. Smith's key press-breakers this season.
His main area for improvement, both Olander and Pires admit, is that he needs to get stronger. Olander won't turn 18 until July.
Olander enrolled at Worcester Academy last summer but left the school after just a couple of months. He returned to E.O. Smith and didn't have to sit out any games as a transfer, since he had broken his thumb at Worcester and never played (or practiced) with the team.
" I just didn’t like it up there," he said of Worcester Acadmey. "That really played into my decision. I didn’t like being away from home. At UConn, I’ll be away from home enough, but I'll still be right there."
Of course, playing so close to home can add some pressure, as well.
"A little bit, yeah," he admitted. "But I’m not going to consider it pressure, but take it as motivation to work harder and that nothing’s going to be handed to me."