Basketball

RECRUITING: Five-star power forward Omaha Biliew picks Iowa State

Link Academy’s Omaha Biliew (0) dunks during the second half of the GEICO Nationals semifinal between Prolific Prep (Calif.) and Link Academy (Mo.), Friday, April 1, 2022, at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.Link Academy defeated Prolific Prep 59-53.

Iowa State men’s basketball has landed its highest-rated recruit of the online recruiting services era.

Five-star power forward Omaha Biliew announced his commitment to T.J. Otzelberger’s program at halftime of an AAU game on ESPN on Tuesday, becoming the third member of the 2023 recruiting class and giving Otzelberger and his staff the biggest recruiting victory of the head coach’s tenure to this point.

Biliew, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound prospect, is considered the No. 12 player in the class, No. 5 power forward and No. 1 player in the state of Iowa by the 247Composite. He is now the highest-rated player in the 2023 class committed to a Big 12 school.

This is the first time Iowa State has ever landed a 247Composite five-star prospect and Biliew is the first top-30 recruit to commit to Iowa State since Craig Brackins in 2007. Biliew edges out Brackins as the highest-rated player to commit to Iowa State in the online recruiting services era, which goes back to 1999.

After spending one year at Link Prep in Missouri, Biliew is returning to his home state to play his senior season in 2022-23 for Waukee High School, which he helped win the Class 4A state championship in 2021 alongside now Drake star forward Tucker Devries and Iowa guard Payton Sandfort.

As a sophomore that season, Biliew averaged 10.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and blocked 3.1 shots per game, which ranked second in Class 4A.

Biliew chose Iowa State over other finalists Kansas, Oregon and the NBA G-League. The five-star also held offers from Nebraska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas Tech and numerous others.

The on-court fit for Biliew in Ames couldn’t be better. He’s regarded as one of the best high school defenders in the country and will fit right in with Otzelberger’s tough-minded defensive scheme that helped Iowa State rank in the top five nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency last season.

Biliew is a freak athlete, and that freakishness shines around the paint, where he’s a high-level rebounder and rim protector defensively with an elite motor. He’s a strong offensive rebounder and finisher around the rim, who still has room to improve his all-around game offensively.

He’s capable in catch-and-shoot situations, but the majority of his offensive game revolves around the ability to use his athleticism to get past less athletic players when attacking the rim. He will need some polish on that end of the court before he can be the kind of player who the offense runs through, but his ability to defend will make him a contributor to the Cyclones immediately when he steps foot on campus.

His game is especially complimentary to fellow Iowa State commit Milan Momcilovic, who was Biliew’s roommate at the NBAPA Top-100 camp last month. Biliew was named to the all-camp team for his performance in that event.

While Momcilovic brings elite scoring ability, he still has room to grow on the defensive end and on the glass. Biliew is more or less the total opposite, regarded as an elite defensive prospect with room to grow on offense.

Three-star Georgia guard Jelani Hamilton is the third member of Iowa State’s class at this point.

Biliew will also have a strong chance to become only the second Iowa State recruit to appear in the McDonald’s All-American game, joining Marcus Fizer, who played in the game in 1997.

Iowa State’s class will rank somewhere in the top five nationally after the 247 team rankings are updated.

Jared Stansbury

administrator

Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.