February 6, 2012

Blake Danielak commits to Tech

Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie landed his first Class of 2013 commitment Sunday evening in 6-foot-7 Liberty Hill (Texas) forward Blake Danielak.

At 6-foot-7 and just 16 years old Danielak has a lot of upside and athletic skill to back up his size, according to Liberty Hill head coach Barry Boren.

"Blake is only a junior," Boren said. "He's fairly young, only 16 years old. We always knew he'd have potential, he's 6-foot-7 and his dad is about 6-foot-9 or so and his sister actually plays at Cornell. There's always been that element that there's potential there.

"His growth as a player this year really made him a viable candidate to play and I think coach Gillispie has the ability to evaluate and he sees Blake still has a really nice upside. Smart kid, he's going to get bigger and he's going to be able to showcase some abilities you don't even recognize now."

Danielak's father, Ray Danielak, is one of the most distinguished basketball players to ever play for Southwest Texas State -- now Texas State - while his sister averages about 15 minutes and three points a night for Cornell.

Interestingly, Gillispie was just starting his coaching career at Southwest Texas State while the elder Danielak was lighting up the scoreboard in the early 1980s. However, Boren doesn't think Gillispie's relationship with Ray Danielak was the biggest selling point for Danielak committing to the Red Raiders.

"There was a connection there and that probably leant itself to the situation, but they didn't have any communication in so many years," Boren said. "I've known Billy Gillispie for a long, long time and I think because of Blake's association with an AAU group I think those guys are really high on Blake and communicated with coach Gillispie. Coach Gillispie, like I said, I've known him for a long time, the things I said about Blake were positive. And finally he did reconnect with Blake's dad and when you put all that together I think that's how it came together the way it did."

Up until this season Boren would have described Danielak as just a shooter. Danielak didn't like to go into the paint and he could rely on a really good shot.

Danielak gained some weight last offseason and now feels big enough that he can attack the basket.

"What he was, was a kid that could really shoot the ball and stayed on the perimeter," Boren said. "He rarely came inside the 3-point line so he was very one-dimensional. Part of that was because he was skinny and not very strong. Not very confident with the ball on the floor.

"He's really had a good year of work. Probably gained 20 to 25 pounds. Athletic. He has a 33 or 34-inch vertical jump so he jumps well and runs well and I think he's going to gain a little more in strength and has a chance to grow a couple of more inches. He's really going to be a dangerous guy if he gets a little more weight and a couple of more inches."

Boren's Liberty Hill team has gone 30-5 for the past three years and graduated 10 players from last year's squad. Danielak played at the sub-varsity level for those seasons.

Liberty Hill currently is 27-3 this year and Boren calls Danielak the 'X-factor' among a team that returned just two lettermen.

"His progress as a player has been kind of the X-factor," Boren said. "We're 27-3 and I don't think anybody thought we would do that."

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