GB’s new on-song guard is aiming to hit the high notes.

I chat to Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye a few days after he has made his Great Britain debut in what turned out to be the first of two victories over Kosovo in what has now become a successful EuroBasket pre-qualifying campaign.

The only debutant to earn court-time this summer so far, the 23-year-old guard has eased comfortably into the fray with a fourth cap to arrive in Wednesday’s dead rubber in Luxembourg.

There is, however, a long-standing ritual that GB rookies must endure as their rite of passage into the senior ranks.

I ask DLO how his went. “Nothing has happened,” he declares, either oblivious or stoic. “We don’t need to give them any ideas.”

No such luck.

Fast forward to three days later when, in the middle of a busy Manchester restaurant, he is captured singing God Save The Queen to an enraptured audience of diners.

As initiations go, it is right out there, front and centre.

Which is where he wants to be, heading into his first professional campaign with Italian side Bergamo after graduating from Bradley University in Illinois.

And this brief international campaign among Nate Reinking’s new-look side has been a perfect pre-pre-season.

“I’m enjoying it,” he declares. “It’s super-fun. It’s my first time being involved with the seniors so I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s an honour to be a part of it. I’ve had to learn a lot on the fly because Nate is a demanding coach. He just wants it to be competitive. That’s what I can bring on an everyday basis. Hopefully I can bring something youthful to this squad.

“And it’s perfect because I get to play competitive basketball in the summer but I also get to be around guys who are professional and who have been doing this for five or ten years. They give me little pieces of advice because this is all a new experience for me. I’ve left college and I’m going into the unknown. This is a transition and that’s all made it easier.”

Lautier-Ogunleye, averaging 3 points per game in precisely eight minutes per night, has been a bundle of energy off the bench, making the most of his opportunity in the way that newcomers should.

The settling in process with GB was thankfully swift, he affirms.

“A lot of guys I knew from being around London. The basketball community is so small that everyone knows everyone so it’s not like you walk in as a complete stranger.

“The vets have been so good. Looking after me and keeping me calm and just learning little things to one, be successful in the future of my career, but two, being successful here.”

19-year-old Fuenlabrada guard Jacob Round, who has been practicing with the squad, will become one of the country’s youngest-ever debutants on Wednesday in Luxembourg City as a replacement for Gabe Olaseni.

A seventh successive competitive victory for GB – who beat their rivals 71-54 in Manchester last week – would give the team its longest-ever streak. Next step, regardless: the main EuroBasket qualifiers come February.

Club pre-season – or the anxious wait for a late deal – is the subsequent trip for the players.

North-central Italy is the destination on DLO’s navigation and the opportunity to ease his way into the European ranks in Lega A2.

When the offer came, it felt like an ideal fit, he declares.

“I had a few options,” he says. “I left a lot of it to my agent so I could have the summer to myself.

“Bergamo was one of a number of opportunities but Italy A2 was great first step. I can come in, just two imports on the team, and showcase what I’m about, heading into this new part of my career. I think it was the best decision that we paid and I think it will be the best in the long run.”

He will be sad to leave Bradley behind, where his team won a mere five games in his freshman season but allowed him to exit on the grand stage of the NCAA tournament. “That was the cherry on the top,” he smiles. No regrets left outstanding.

But this is his new life now. An initiation, in every sense. A reboot, performed in front of an expectant crowd.

“I’m back at ground level,” Lautier-Ogunleye acknowledges. “Stage One. But this is the fun part. I’ve been waiting all my life for this, to say I’m a professional basketball player.

“I’m very fortunate. To be one of the few people who can say they do that for a living. Now I just have to prove myself and grind every day. But that’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Watch Luxembourg v GB on MVP247.com from 6pm tonight

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