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Wednesday, April 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Column: Oladipo’s chance to play in NBA is too good to pass up

Oladipo

The first domino has fallen.

In a press conference on Branch McCracken Court at Assembly Hall among media, his head coach and his academic adviser and “best friend,” Marni Mooney, junior guard Victor Oladipo announced Tuesday afternoon he will forego his senior season to enter the 2013 NBA Draft.

“I will be growing and going on and entering the NBA draft,” Oladipo said. “It’s an honor to be an Indiana Hoosier. It means so much to me, and I will always be an Indiana Hoosier. You know, this is my home. I love this place.”

The announcement effectively starts the time clock for another one of IU’s potential NBA prospects, sophomore forward Cody Zeller, to decide what the men’s basketball roster will look like in the 2013-14 season.

But before we get caught up on next year, let’s realize what IU is losing with the departure of Oladipo.

Oladipo leaves Indiana having played in 104 games (75 starts). He scored 1,117 points, shot 53.8 percent from the field, grabbed 538 rebounds, 175 assists, 56 blocks and 161 steals.

He finished third all-time on the IU career steals list behind Dane Fife (180) and Steve Alford (178) — both of whom played four seasons for the Hoosiers.

Aside from these statistically measurable contributions to the program, Oladipo’s parting, combined with the loss of senior guard Jordan Hulls to graduation, means that two out of the three guys that Crean pegged as “the 365-day club” will not be returning to guide the way of the incoming freshman class.

Oladipo’s work ethic, infectious personality and leadership are things that aren’t easily replaced and will certainly be missed around Bloomington.

“It’s just an incredible thing to watch somebody that is as good of a person, has the charisma, the personality, the integrity, the character to just come alive with this second-to-none work ethic that he has brought,” Crean said. “It has helped transform our team, and it has helped make everyone else in this program better.

“Victor may not have been the point guard, per se, but when he was on the court, he impacted the game for everyone and helped make every one of his teammates better.”

Although he said the decision was tough, Oladipo’s choice to leave Bloomington for the greener pastures of the NBA looks like the right decision at the right time for the junior from Upper Marlboro, Md.

“I swayed back and forth, especially throughout the season,” Oladipo said. “I just felt this was best for my family. Coming here, like I said, and graduating in three years and getting such a great education that I have gotten here at Indiana University, I felt like I’m prepared for it.”

His decision should not be looked down upon by optimistic Hoosier fans that were hoping for a last-minute change of heart that would bring Oladipo back for one more season to fill Assembly Hall with “Oh-la-dee-po” chants.

Even with another year to progress under the tutelage of Crean and his staff, how much higher could Oladipo’s draft stock go?

According to an NBA scout that I spoke with in February, Oladipo was already projected to be a lottery pick, if not a top-10 selection.

And this was before his 19-point, nine-rebound and five-steal performance on the road against Michigan State to help lead the Hoosiers’ comeback to a 72-68 victory against the Spartans.

“The feedback is very, very strong,” Crean said. “Without being extremely specific, it has not been anything less than being a lottery selection. That’s just too hard to pass up.”

Too hard to pass up indeed.

Now, the question is: will the NBA be too hard to pass up for Oladipo’s now-former teammate, Cody Zeller?

­— mdnorman@indiana.edu

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