CHICAGO – As Victor Oladipo sauntered into the media room at the recent NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, he immediately was surrounded by a throng of writers and cameramen asking the same questions that the former Indiana guard had been inquired of a multitude of times.
Why did he want to declare for the draft?
Which teams have interviewed him so far?
What assets does he bring to an NBA team?
What is (former Indiana teammate) Cody Zeller really like?
And then Oladipo had to undergo the same act the following day. But did he ever complain about this becoming blasÚ?
Heck, no. Are you kidding? According to Oladipo, he hasn't been in the limelight enough to have grown weary of it yet.
“No, it never does,” Oladipo said of the onslaught of fame. “I remember a couple of months ago, I wasn't getting any attention.”
Well, perhaps not a “couple of months ago,” as the 6-foot-4 guard gradually raised into the national consciousness of college basketball followers with spectacular play at both ends of the floor. But his point is well taken, for a year ago at this time, few envisioned Oladipo being in this position, which is a lock to be a high first round selection in next month's NBA Draft.
“A couple of years ago, I wasn't getting any attention,” Oladipo said. “So this (attention) is all kind of surreal to me.”
Even in high school, Oladipo wasn't a household name among national scouts and fawned over by every coach in the country. He was rated as the 144th best senior in the country, so it wasn't as if no school desired his services, but when 143 players are regarded as better than you by the so-called experts, Oladipo's situation was more about who would offer him, rather than which program he would select from an endless list of schools. And that lack of recognition has resonated with him ever since.
“It just drives me,” Oladipo said. “I know what it feels like to be at the bottom and to be overlooked. So I just use that as fuel.”
That strategy has worked well for the 2013 Sporting News National Player of the Year.
Oladipo not only stood out with the Hoosiers this past season, but did so at the Combine, as well. He measured 6-foot-4 ╝ with a 6-foot-9 ╝ wingspan and had a 42-inch in the maximum vertical leap, which was second only to Miami guard Shane Larkin's 44-inch result.
The numbers don't lie when it comes to analyzing Oladipo, nor does the tape. He believes that he has demonstrated enough ability on the court over the past three seasons to merit the recognition that numerous NBA teams are devoting toward him.
“I've proven myself,” Oladipo said. “I've shown my abilities on the court and what I was capable of this past season. I feel like that I have a lot of potential to be really great. But I have to continue to keep working for that dream and goal to come true.”