Butler’s Ollio a super soph
Baseball prospect Mr. Consistency in basketball
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP — Having played for Team
In fact, he’s pretty darn good.
“College recruiters are eventually going to ask about his situation,” Golden Tornado basketball coach Matt Clement said. “And I’m going to have to tell them he’s going the baseball route.
“Could he play college basketball? Absolutely.”
Ollio has been a model of consistency for Butler this season. He’s averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game. Only twice in the season’s first 18 games has he failed to score in double figures.
Not bad for a “secondary” sport.
“I play basketball because I love it and it’s great cross-training,” Ollio said. “Basketball allows me further use of my competitive spirit. I don’t want to play baseball all year long.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t practice it.
Three days a week after basketball practice, Ollio hits the weight room for a regimented baseball workout. He then goes home, eats dinner, does his homework and heads out to Slippery Rock for indoor baseball workouts.
All of that suits him just fine.
“Sports have always been my comfort zone,” Ollio said. “When I feel stressed out or bothered by something, I pick up a ball.”
On top of being a two-sport standout, Ollio is among the best in his class academically.
“I don’t know how he does everything he does,” Clement marveled. “Connor is a very intelligent kid and he’s mature well beyond his years in athletics and otherwise."
“His intelligence helps him on the court and on the diamond. He knows how to handle things.”
Because of baseball, Ollio misses Butler’s spring and summer basketball program that consists of 20 to 25 games. Once basketball season ends, he’s all about baseball.
But come September, he is all about basketball.
“I knew he wasn’t in basketball shape at the time, but I put him in a fall league game against New Castle because we were low on numbers and Connor scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds,” Clement said.
“That’s the competitiveness inside of him that comes out.”
That same competitiveness allows Ollio to make up for lost time in terms of getting ready for basketball season.
“His teammates know he’s all in,” Clement said. “No one is upset at all that he misses spring and summer. They know he’ll catch up. He’s not going to let his teammates down and they respect that.”
Ollio said he shows up for open gym in September and treats it like a regular practice. He admitted it takes a while to adjust his body to basketball.
“We do a lot of running drills and by the time we hit our 18th line, I’m pretty much there,” he said. “By the time we have tryouts (Nov. 16), I’m good to go.”
Ollio saw a handful of varsity minutes as a freshman last year. This season, he’s teamed with Tyler Frederick to give the Tornado a strong inside game.
“We take a lot of attention off each other,” Frederick said. “Connor has made a big difference in my game. And defenses sag toward me, giving him open lanes to the hoop.
“The improvement he’s made (from freshman to sophomore) has been huge, but not unbelievable. I know how hard the guy works.”
The chemistry between the pair is apparent as well.
“We know each other’s moves now and how to set each other up,” Ollio said. “Tyler draws so much attention because of his physical presence down low that I’m wide open much of the time.”
In terms of baseball, Ollio has already received scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina.
He’s accepted none of them. After a four-week window, Duke and North Carolina withdraw scholarship offers.
“I do want to play baseball down south. I’m just not ready to make a commitment yet,” Ollio said.
“Talk about a kid who has it all together ... Connor Ollio will be a success no matter what he does,” the coach said