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DLO continues his basketball career

Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye promised his family he would earn a university degree. And he did, by completing his bachelor’s in marketing while playing a big part of the Bradley men’s basketball program rebuild. 

DLO, as he is commonly referred to on the basketball circuit, said he knew he wanted to play professionally after his collegiate career. The 6-foot-4-inch guard averaged 8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in four years wearing a Braves uniform. 

During his senior season, agents reached out to him, but he pushed them away, stating he wanted to focus on playing. When the team reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, those agents had to wait a bit longer. But for good reason, as he scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a first-round loss versus perennial Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State. 

After taking some time to himself and realizing that college was over, Lautier-Ogunleye signed with Marco Calise of Tangram Sports, who is also the agent of former Braves’ teammate forward Donte Thomas.

“They seemed to care about me the most,” Lautier-Ogunleye said. “I went back home [to London, England, after the season], worked out and concentrated on my body just getting ready. In July there were multiple offers on the table and we decided Italy would be the best thing for development in terms of playing.”

He played with a team, Bergamo B. 2014, of the second-tier professional basketball league Serie A2 Girone OVEST in Italy. Lautier-Ogunleye was one of two foreign players on his team per league rules. He had to get used to sharing the floor with older players who had wives and children of their own.

”It’s your profession,” Lautier-Ogunleye said. “You practice twice a day, you don’t go to any unnecessary classes or anything like that. It’s full-time.”

Although A2 is a lower league in comparison to others around Europe, the competitive level was significantly higher than Lautier-Ogunleye had expected. He had a lot to prove as the youngest player (age 23 at the time) in the starting lineup. Bryce Johnson, the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft out of North Carolina, played in the league and was an example to Lautier-Ogunleye that pro ball is a step up from the college ranks.

With the coronavirus outbreak, his rookie season was cut short, but Lautier-Ogunleye said that he felt it was a good start to his professional career and was satisfied he could produce as a new pro. 

“I had been through adversity before so I know what that’s like because freshman year we won five games. I know how important working hard and putting the time in and just waiting,” Lautier-Ogunleye said. “When everything was starting to click and we were grooving it was put to a halt.”

Although he shot a lower percentage than his time with the Braves, he upped his scoring (14.9), rebounding (4.9) and assist (3.1) averages in an increased total of 31.4 minutes per game.

“I had a big role on the team, they trusted me,” he said. “This year was kinda weird because, yes, I was one of the younger guys, however, as being an import people look up to you. I had to be a leader of the whole group which was a little weird.”

Lautier-Ogunleye was a passionate player at Bradley, but he said it was hard to show that to his Italian teammates from the onset. Lautier-Ogunleye can speak three languages, but not Italian: French, Spanish and English. Unfortunately, none of those helped with the language and cultural barrier he faced.

“It was hard just because they probably didn’t understand me or understand why I was so animated or so passionate but over time it clicked,” Lautier-Ogunleye said. 

He’s a competitor,” head coach Brian Wardle told The Scout following the 2019 NCAA Tournament game. “DLO is a guy you never had to motivate to get fired up, to get his juices going. He grew and got better and better. He wanted feedback. He [sought] constructive criticism.”

He’s still following the Bradley program and said that the coaches have been contacting him every couple of months to catch-up. 

“Towards the start of the season Wardle used to message me and Luqman [Lundy] just saying how much he missed some of the older guys and how much he missed the maturity level we had,” Lautier-Ogunleye said.

He said that he was impressed by how the team adapted and battled adversity as he watched from across the pond. 

“We all had a sense of urgency and everyone was focused to complete a team effort and I dont know its just something about Bradley players, we show up in big moments I feel like,” he said. “It never really was the same guy and you never knew who it was until it happened.”

Lautier-Ogunleye is currently residing back in his hometown waiting to get back on the basketball court. Although the league canceled the season, he is under contract until the end of June. Lautier-Ogunleye said that his first year allowed him to adjust to the quick turnarounds that are in professional basketball. He hopes to join a higher league when possible and use his interpersonal skills to integrate himself into another city, or country, as well as an organization.

In addition to a professional basketball career, Lautier-Ogunleye is also representing his nation of Great Britain on the court. He was called up to the senior men’s team following the conclusion of his BU career. He had represented the nation on the junior level, but the senior team competes to earn a bid to the Olympics. 

To qualify for the Games, Great Britain needs to rank in the top three in Eurobasket 2021, the qualifying tournament for worldwide competition. If Great Britain can make it, it has taken the next step to qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. However, because of the Olympics’ postponement, the 2021 summer competition will likely be postponed as well. It is all up in the air.

Great Britain’s basketball team has not qualified for the Olympic Games in its entire history. In 1948 and 2012, when London hosted the Games, organizers allowed for a Great Britain team. The team went a combined 2-11 in those two Olympic competitions. Lautier-Ogunleye said he hopes to help build up the national program, but knows it will be a long process. He’s got his sights set on the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.

What are the 2017-18 and 2018-19 players doing now?

Donte Thomas: Thomas has played two seasons of professional basketball in northern Europe. In 2018-19 he played for KTP Basket in the Korisliiga Finnish basketball league. This season, he was competing for Donar Groningen in the Netherlands DBL league. He has averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game across the two seasons. 

Luqman Lundy: Lundy has been working out in his native New Jersey and visiting Bradley for extended periods of time to practice with the team. He has not yet hired an agent but said he hopes to play professionally.

Antoine Pittman: Pittman transferred to Division II Maryville in Missouri for his final year of eligibility and played in four games for the Saints averaging 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 21.5 minutes per game.

Luuk van Bree: Van Bree signed with Tangram Sports and is represented by Christos Lazarou. He hopes to sign with a professional team for the next international season. The former forward was cleared for contact practices a few days before widespread closure due to COVID-19. Van Bree was sidelined from an Achilles tendon rupture late last June and, via Instagram, said the surgery went well. 

Peter Hanley: Hanley, the walk-on who earned a scholarship, is living in Peoria and attending medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. He is often spotted at Braves games.

Ryan Stipanovich: Stipanovich left the team after his 2017-18 freshman season. He is no longer playing Division I basketball after averaging 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.

Callum Barker: Barker transferred to Division II Missouri State Baptist for his 2018-19 senior season. He averaged 7.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game. He is playing for the Frankston RSL Blues in Australia.

Jayden Hodgson: Hodgson transferred to Grand Valley State in Michigan following the 2018-19 season. During his senior 2019-20 season, Hodgson averaged 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 30.9 minutes per game.

JoJo McGlaston: McGlaston was dismissed from the team after nine games played in 2017-18. As he was a senior that season his basketball career effectively ended.

Armon Brummett: He transferred to Danville Area Community College following his 2018-19 freshman year, where he played all 23 games for the Jaguars and averaged 14.3 points per game, good for second highest on the squad.

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