OSU standout Greg Oden: Should he stay or should he go?Written by Dave Woolford | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Oden was 18-going-on-48 in appearance until he removed his beard just before his 19th birthday Jan. 22. But facial hair or not, place the face value of this 7-0, 280-pound Ohio State Buckeye bundle of basketball at $1 million-going-on-infinity.
In other words, while AARP has backed off, the NBA is “Oden” its breath until it can snare the freshman, said to be the best big-man prospect since Alonzo Mourning enrolled at Georgetown in 1988.
Will this man-child (the only child aspect relating to humility) leave OSU after one year, which relates to much less than that when you consider that he’ll play almost this entire season with his right hand held prisoner by a cast following wrist surgery in June. That also forced him to miss the first seven games of the current season and shoot free throws with his left hand. You have to wonder what one full season with two good hands might generate.
Is it worth Oden’s time to stay one more year at Ohio State and find out? Let’s put the answer in the form of a question. Why? Time is money, lots of money when you’re Greg Oden.
The only reason he’s a Buckeye now is that the NBA, in its infinite wisdom that goes all the way back to a few months ago, ruled that high school seniors can’t do the preps-to-pros thing anymore.
A high school player can’t be eligible for the NBA draft until he turns 19 or is one year removed from high school.
Meanwhile, the current campus basketball baby boom is a boon to the fortunate college basketball programs that have attracted these millionaires in waiting. And who knows, maybe a few of them will stay on just to experience going to a class or two.
The college freshmen basketball class this year has been hailed as one of the best ever, thanks to the NBA, which has diluted the college game in recent years by accepting players right out of high school.
In the past five years, 26 high school players have been taken in the NBA Draft, and 19 of them were first-round picks.
While Oden indicates to the media that he’ll probably remain at Ohio State, at least for another year, he has also expressed his displeasure over the new freshman rule that didn’t allow him to be the first pick in last year’s NBA Draft.
Now he must bide his time until he can be the first pick in this year’s NBA draft.
The Greg Oden sweepstakes started when he was still leading Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three state titles and 45 consecutive victories. One NBA personnel director, when told by a coach that Oden reminded him of Patrick Ewing at this stage of Oden’s career, replied. “That’s an insult to Greg Oden.”
NBA scouts don’t like to go on record in regard to their assessment of particular players, but promise them anonymity and they’ll give you the scoop.
“Oden is special because he’s so big, he’s so long,” one NBA scout said. “One thing I noticed about this kid is that he has great patience. A lot of young players, they want to score 20 points on one possession.
He’s content scoring six, eight points, but he’s also dominating the game by blocking shots, rebounding. He affects the game without having to score.”
Oden’s numbers aren’t exactly numbing. He’s averaging just over 15 points and 9 1/2 rebounds. But add in his blocks and shot alterations and he controls the game in the lane, which is his domain.
Oden reminds a lot of people of Bill Russell in all of those aspects, his unselfishness and modesty the most reminiscent, along with the deep furrows in the forehead.
If Oden stays at OSU the Buckeyes could be all but unbeatable next season. If he exits to the NBA some dreadful team this season will get a franchise. The hope here is that he stays. Fantasizing is such fun.