Greg Oden is through with school. Heâ€™s fleeing Ohio State University for greener pastures at the professional level. The 7-foot freshman said yesterday he will leave Ohio State after leading the Buckeyes to the national championship game and enter the NBA draft, where he figures to be one of the top two picks along with Texas freshman forward Kevin Durant.
And how can you blame him? The kind of money Oden will be making next season in the NBA will be unprecedented for a rookie. He played like a man among boys this season and looks like a seasoned NBA all-star already. For him to stay in college would have been a waste of talent, quite honestly.
Some of the people associated with Ohio Stateâ€™s basketball program have made disparaging remarks about Oden leaving the school. I think thatâ€™s ridiculous. I canâ€™t believe that anyone else in the world with half a brain would pass up the treasures and rewards that await Oden on the pro level.
Ohio State was a good training ground for Oden. The Buckeyes have a first-class program, with the best accommodations, facilities and hoochies (see photo) in the NCAA. But, the NBA is like heaven compared to college. Oden can now look forward to first-class flights and hotels, awesome food and drink, huge arenas every other night and best of all, better-looking, not to mention freakier, groupies!
Freshman teammates Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook also said they will make themselves available for the draft. Unlike Oden, they have opted not to hire an agent for now--meaning they will retain the option of returning to school in the fall.
"This is a very tough decision for me," Oden said in a statement released by Ohio State. "I love OSU and love being a Buckeye, but I also have a great opportunity to take my game to the next level and compete with the best players in the world. I've discussed this with family, friends and coach [Thad] Matta, and I feel the time is right."
None of the players was available for comment. Conley is expected to be an honorary head coach for today's Scarlet vs. Gray spring football game. Oden is out of town to attend his aunt's wedding.
At a news conference yesterday afternoon, Matta said the departure of the three players, though expected, would leave a hole in the program. Matta said he was proud of their accomplishments and hoped that the success of players such as Oden, coupled with the team's trip to the national championship game, will lure talented recruits.
"Honestly, it's been kind of a goal of mine to have a player selected as high as Greg is going to be," Matta said. "This is a situation where we've got to handle it and continue to build."
All three players were key figures this past season for the Buckeyes, who went 35-4 to set a mark for victories and won the Big Ten's regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to their first national championship game since 1962, where they lost to two-time champion Florida 84-75 this month.
After getting a late start at Ohio State because of a wrist injury, Oden, 19, lived up to his billing as a two-time national high school player of the year, leading the Buckeyes in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (9.6) per game and topping the Big Ten in shooting percentage (.616).
His best game may have been his last one, when he scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds while dominating the inside against Al Horford and Joakim Noah of Florida.
Oden had surgery on his right (shooting) wrist to reattach ligaments last June 16. He worked out with the team while wearing a cast that eventually became an elastic brace. After missing the first seven games, he came in and--despite shooting free throws and most of his other shots left-handed--had an immediate impact.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Attanasio
Oden Goes for the Pros
Copyright © 2010 Ed Attanasio
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