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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Oladipo to enter 2013 NBA Draft

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Junior guard Victor Oladipo walked onto Branch McCracken Court once more Tuesday afternoon, but it was different this time.

He wore sweats, not the cream and crimson jersey he had for three years.

He sat next to IU Coach Tom Crean at a table set up at half-court, surrounded by a backdrop and speakers, not his teammates. Assistant coaches stood off in the distance.

He did not enter to the roar of a crowd and Chuck Crabb’s voice over the loudspeaker.
He did not skip around offering handshakes and fist bumps to opponents. He was not minutes away from nabbing a nimble steal or uncorking a thundering dunk before the Assembly Hall fans.

Those days are done.

As had been widely speculated, Oladipo announced Tuesday that he will forego his final season of collegiate eligibility at IU and enter the 2013 NBA Draft.

“It’s been an honor to play here in Indiana, to grow as a human being, as a man and as a basketball player, but I will be growing and going on and entering the NBA Draft,” Oladipo said. “It’s an honor. To be an Indiana Hoosier means so much to me, and I will always be an Indiana Hoosier. This is my home. I love this place.”

The junior guard and his coach spoke at length for a half hour about where he has come from and where he is going, Oladipo’s breathing heavy as the microphone amplified it.

He did not crack jokes — except to say he likely would have sung at his senior speech — or even much of a smile, a departure from the freewheeling Oladipo normally at home in a press conference.

Oladipo — the first IU player to enter the draft early since Eric Gordon in 2008 — has yet to hire an agent, but Crean said that process will begin shortly.

Mere months ago, such an announcement would have been unthinkable, even for Oladipo himself. He said he heard the predictions — which saw him go from a fringe-second rounder before the season to a potential top-five pick today — but he paid them little mind.

Crean said they have heard no recent predictions that have Oladipo slipping out of the lottery range — the top 14 picks — in the draft.

“I was hearing stuff and I was realizing that I had a good chance of getting to the NBA, but I was just focused on Indiana and wearing them candy stripes that I wasn’t really worried about anything else until the end of the year,” Oladipo said. “It seemed like the best decision was to go.”

To Crean, though, this was no surprise. He said he knew as early as last season that Oladipo would have this opportunity.

The general public, though, did not. A 3-star recruit ranked No. 144 nationally in the 2010 class by Rivals.com, he arrived without the hoopla of most future lottery picks.

Oladipo’s scoring, rebounding and steals rose every year at IU, culminating in averages of 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He took home multiple player-of-the-year honors and made numerous first-team All-American teams.

In what Crean predicted as a rarity for early entrants, Oladipo will have his degree by the time he is drafted, graduating in May after only three years in college. He said having that accomplished did make his decision easier.

Oladipo’s teammate, sophomore forward Cody Zeller, will make his own announcement Wednesday regarding his future at IU.

After a half hour, Oladipo stood up, quiet and still staring into the distance, the weight of his decision still evident in his posture. Before he was fully upright, though, Crean extended a quick hand, and the player and coach shared one final handshake.

“Victor epitomizes, to me, what it is to have someone who deserves to have those options in his life,” Crean said. “He has truly, truly earned those. He didn’t have them handed to him. They weren’t bestowed upon him. They weren’t entitled to him. He went out and took them.”

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