Houston Baptist point guard Oliver Lynch-Daniels is only a sophomore, but he hopes to have a career in the pros. Though it may be an improbable path, he showed potential with a 19-point performance against the Miami Hurricanes, which he called one of his best ever.
Tony Capobianco chatted with Lynch-Daniels about playing high major opponents on the road, Oak Hill Academy, and more.
How does it feel like on the court when you’re having a game like you had?
You feel a little bit move involved, a little bit more into the game. I feel as if guys are looking for you. You’re in the right place in the right time. It just feels like everything’s flowing correctly.
How did you end up at Houston Baptist?
That whole process began, I want to say, my junior summer. HBU started recruiting me, looking at me and I went over to the school in the summer and I played against their dudes. I did well, actually got a scholarship from them. HBU actually showed a lot of interest by coming up to Oak Hill actually and watched me practice with the team. After that day, they offered me a scholarship. I took a little while, talked to my parents and I felt it was the right fit. I can go and play right away, do well and basically flourish, and a level I felt I could do best.
Being in a small school, do you get the big man on campus treatment given your position on the basketball team?
Yeah, sometimes, especially after a big win. Everybody is always, “congrats” and all that.
After that 19-point game against the Hurricanes, they’ll probably look at you like Zach Efron from the movie “17 Again.”
Yeah, that they will. I either get Zach Efron because of High School Musical or I get Dave Franco a lot. You see it a little bit? I definitely get it when people typically don’t get my name. If I get a “Dave Franco,” I’ll turn my head around.
Oak Hill Academy is considered a pro factory. There were four seniors on the table during signing day, including you. One was going to the Big East, another to the SEC, another to the Big 12, and then you with the HBU hat. What was your experience like at that program?
When you’re there at Oak Hill, I was basically playing against top, high major dudes every day. First it was a little overwhelming cause you’re like, “dang, these dudes are top 25 best in the nation.” But then when you play with them and you kind of get to know them, kind of going back and forth scoring on each other so really we’re all a little at the same level. Other dudes have better things they can do, like for me, obviously more athletic and stuff like that. I just felt like for me to play at a school where my athleticism can do the best at Oak Hill, it was a fun experience. I played against dudes that were better than me and when I got there my sophomore year I realized I had to get better if I wanted to play at that level. That’s what I did and competed against them every day.
Sounds like good preparation for what you would be going up against in college. Especially in your tier, where you spend the first two months of the season traveling to major college after major college (Arizona, Wisconsin, Wake Forest and Miami) as the Generals to their Globetrotters. Your coach, Ron Cottrell, said those games are important for you guys to “be challenged and face adversity in every way.” What is that experience like?
It’s really cool because you get to come to these places and see these big arenas. It’s a lot of fun to experience it all, especially when the game time comes. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe unless you’re out there. It’s a lot of fun, especially in Wisconsin. My mom graduated from there so I had a bunch of fans there so that was a lot of fun. Wake Forest, I live in Chapel Hill, N.C. so having a bunch of fans and people rooting for you and able to watch the game is really a lot of fun.
During your freshman year, you played at Providence, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt. Among all those places you played in during your young career, which one awed you the most?
Arizona was cool because it was the first game (this year). It was a cool environment because there was a bunch of people, it was practically almost sold out. I want to say Wisconsin just because of how big it was. It was literally like we were playing in an NBA arena, so that was crazy. It wasn’t that many people but it was still a great experience.
You do a little bit of everything for this team. If I gave you the option of a 20-point game, 10-15 assist game or a 10-rebound game, which one would be more ideal for you?
I’d probably choose the 10-15 assists just because me being a point guard, one of my favorite players is Steve Nash. So watching Steve Nash getting other people involved, creating for other people is just something that I love to do. Obviously scoring is fun too but getting assists is what I actually really like to do. But if they leave you open then you got to score too. So a little mix of both are perfect but if I had to choose it’d be the high assists game.
You mentioned Steve Nash as your favorite NBA player. Is that someone who you look to build your game around?
I enjoy watching him play, especially some old film highlights. That’s always great to see. I wish he was still playing now. I wish he would’ve won, too. As a young guy, when I was shorter than everyone, I tried to be like Nash.
Is pro basketball an aspiration of yours?
Absolutely. When I went to Oak Hill, that was one of the reasons, because I went to a high school where basketball wasn’t big. And so I made that jump because I knew that basketball was what I want to do when I got older. So I made that decision there. Pro basketball is definitely what I want to do.