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Pedersen ready to lend Penguins a hand

Staff photo / John Vargo Olamide Pedersen claps for his teammates at practice Tuesday.

YOUNGSTOWN — Olamide Pedersen stood on the sidelines at Monday’s practice, clapping for his teammates.

He asked Youngstown State University coach Jerrod Calhoun if he could take some live action. The men’s basketball coach gave the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward a resounding no.

The middle finger on Pedersen’s right, shooting hand was injured prior to the Penguins’ mid-August trip to the Virgin Islands for three exhibition games. He couldn’t go. It was a fractured bone in his hand.

“He’s really itching to get out there,” said Calhoun, whose team’s season begins Nov. 5 at home vs. Thiel College.

It’s been more than a month that the sophomore has been out of contact play. That changed Thursday as Pedersen took the court for some full-, and half-court basketball.

“I was trying to get a little reps in today to see how it felt,” Pedersen said on Monday. “It was feeling great. Now I just want to get back into live action and compete again with the team.”

Calhoun said the 209-pound post has plenty of energy and passion. He said the next 35 to 40 days are going to be vital for Pedersen’s progress.

“We’ve got some time now where we can focus,” Calhoun said. “He’s going to play a big part of it. He’s long, he’s lanky, he’s athletic. We’re going to need him to be good for us.”

His freshman year was plagued with foul trouble with 74 in 29 games, averaging 12.4 minutes an outing. Pedersen averaged about three points and rebounds per game.

However, he was one of the best shot blockers in the league with 30.

“I want to get really consistent to help the team out winning games,” he said. “I want to stay out of foul trouble, and I want to be a good rebounder for this team, great shot blocker and whenever I’m needed, to score as well.”

Defensive pressure, offensive talent, Pedersen has seen plenty from the sidelines as he was limited to drills before Thursday.

Now, he wants to be part of a YSU team seeking to improve on last season’s 12-20 record.

“Seeing the team play so well at practice just wants me to get into the flow with them, to play hard again,” he said.

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