Danielak picks Drake

Liberty Hill senior Blake Danielak took his official visit to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa this week after announcing his decision to play basketball for the Bulldogs last Thursday. (File Photo by Kathy Canady)

Liberty Hill senior Blake Danielak took his official visit to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa this week after announcing his decision to play basketball for the Bulldogs last Thursday.
(File Photo by Kathy Canady)

By Joseph Garcia

Over the course of this past basketball season, Liberty Hill senior Blake Danielak went from a Texas Tech University commit, to being a free agent with a wealth of options.

On April 18, the 6-7 forward announced on his Twitter page that, “After 8 long months of recruiting…I have committed to play at Drake University.”

Drake University is located in Des Moines, Iowa, and has an enrollment of over 3,500 full-time undergraduate students.

Other schools in the picture over the past few weeks vying for the services of Danielak were Rice, Denver Colgate, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Cal Fullerton and Cal Berkley.

Danielak will make it official and sign his letter of intent sometime next week.

“Drake has been recruiting me more about a month now,” Danielak said. “One of the assistants came down and watched me workout. I decided to go with Drake because I wanted to find a college that has very high academics and a high-quality basketball program. Drake is very well known academically, especially its business school, which is what I want to major in.”

Drake is in the Missouri Valley Conference, which had a team go to the Final Four in Wichita State. Creighton was also in the tournament.

Danielak said Drake’s basketball program is very well followed in Des Moines, averaging over 4,000 fans a game. The Bulldogs recently hired new head coach Ray Giacoletti on March 28 to take over the men’s basketball program.

“I am very excited about their new coaching staff,” Danielak explained. “The head coach (Giacoletti) came from Gonzaga and recruited Kelly Olynyk there and recruited Andrew Bogut when he was at Utah.”

Coach Giacoletti calls Danielak nearly every day to check up on him. “He is very excited to have me a part of the Drake family,” he said.

To stay in shape, Danielak has continued strength training with trainer TJ Garza. He also spends two hours a day working out at the Georgetown Recreation Center’s basketball courts.

Danielak will be making his official visit to Drake April 24-25 in his first trip to Iowa. His parents, Ray and Letty, will be making the sojourn to Des Moines with him.

It has always been a dream of Danielak’s to play college basketball and knowing that it is coming to fruition is phenomenal and for the sharp-shooting forward. He also views it as a bit rare having come from a smaller school.

“Ever since I was little I have always dreamt of playing college basketball with thousands of screaming fans in the stands,” he said. “I feel a sense of relief because I have worked so hard over these last few years to get this opportunity. The recruiting process has been very rough with the (Texas) Tech ordeal and I’m just happy to say that I am going to be a Division I basketball player coming from a 3A school.

“A lot of people say only the big schools like 5A schools have kids go to college,” Danielak said. “But with the help of my coaches and supporting staff, I have made this dream come true for myself.”

Danielak said he could not have done it without his family being behind him and trusting in God that there is a plan for him and to always look positively into the future. He is also grateful for all of his coaches over the years.

“I would like to thank everyone who has believed in me and has supported me along the way, whether it was Ed Beans and Tony Stephens on me in the Wildcat program or playing in (junior high) with Coach (Danny) Knowles and Coach (Justin) Goldsmith,” Danielak said “And then being able to finish out my high school career playing for the legend in Coach (Barry) Boren.”

Danielak will be  a freshman when Drake’s basketball season begins in early November, but knowing his work ethic it would come as no surprise if he plays plenty of minutes and makes Liberty Hill proud along the way.