CHARLESTON, Ill. -- Olaf Blab, the brother of Indiana center Uwe Blab, has become the second 7-foot West German exchange student to sign a national letter of intent with the University of Illinois.
Blab, a member of the Charleston High School basketball team, joins Jens Kujawa, who played for Taylorville High School, on the Illini basketball team.
Blab is considered a long-range prospect and is expected to redshirt next season. He averaged 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and five blocked shots for Charleston.
Blab, who also considered Utah and Texas-El Paso, made his decision Thursday night. He said playing with Kujawa had little effect on his decision.
'I play in America now,' Blab said after signing. 'Just because Jens is from Germany, that doesn't matter. I'm sure we'll talk to each other in English. The important thing about Jens being there is just playing against him, and other big players. (It) will make me a better player. It is important to play against big players all the time.'
Blab said he selected Illinois because he liked team members and Coach Lou Henson. Also, he said he was impressed with the academic program and indicated he planned to study agriculture.
'We're quite excited about his decision because he has so much potential to improve,' Henson said. 'He has a knack for blocking shots. He has good hands and natural athletic ability. He lacks strength and experience and we have a program to help him in those areas.'
His prep coach, Steve Simons, said playing at Illinois should improve his skills significantly.
'I think it's great for Olaf,' Simons said. 'I don't see any way he can go wrong. I think Illinois will be good for him. It's a great program and also very strong academically.'
'When Olaf gets into a program where he has to work hard every single day and if he's willing to put in time and effort to be a great player, there's no telling what he can accomplish.'
Olaf will graduate June 2 and return to West Germany for three or four weeks. He then will live on the Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign to begin a weight training program.