By Chris Le
According to FOXsports.com, Ohio State freshman Greg Oden has finally decided to do what everyone knew he would do — enter the upcoming NBA Draft. After weeks of thought and discussion with his mother and Ohio State coach Thad Matta, the projected No. 1 pick is expected to make an announcement Friday, ending his college career after one season.
After leading the Buckeyes to the championship game, in which he dominated, posting 21 points and 12 rebounds against a Florida Gators frontcourt that was considered to be the best in the nation, Oden all but solidified his spot at the top of the draft with apologies to Kevin Durant, who some believe will challenge Oden in being the first to shake commissioner David Stern’s hand.
Still, you can’t go wrong with either one. While I was reading the news that Oden is leaving Ohio State, I could almost see all the smiling faces in Memphis and Boston, as the Grizzlies and Celtics have the best chances of acquiring the first pick in the draft.
While the fans in Memphis and Boston are giddy, I can almost guarantee that the people of Columbus, Ohio are sickened by the breaking news. Not only are they losing the best big-man prospect of the last decade, they might have to contend next season without the best point guard in the nation, Mike Conley Jr. Conley raised some eyebrows after averaging 11.3 points and 6.1 assists during the regular season, but his draft stock soared to its peak after exhibiting poised floor-generalship and clutch play in the NCAA Tournament.
Insanely gifted Buckeye sixth man Daequan Cook will also follow Oden into the draft. The 6’5” wingman displayed elite-level athleticism and a knack for scoring early in the season, but saw his playing time diminish, along with his productivity, as the regular season ended.
Conley and Cook are withholding from signing with an agent, a move that will still allow them to return to Ohio State if they choose to forego the draft. Conley will stay in the draft if he is at least a lottery pick (picks 1-14) in the upcoming evaluations used to assess where each player will go in the draft.
Poor, Ohio State. They sign an incoming class on the level of the fabled Michigan Fab Five only to lose it the next year. But I suppose it’s better to have had Oden than to have never had him at all. Good luck to them advancing into the Sweet 16 next season. Oh well, they still have football.