Greg Oden is a man of many talents, but a kid of very few words. Tuesday evening, Bucknuts was fortunate enough to get a rare interview with the 7-foot man-child out of Indianapolis Lawrence North High School.
The dominating center averaged 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks a game this past season as a junior, helping to lead Lawrence North to a second consecutive Class 4A state championship in Indiana. His efforts recently awarded him national Gatorade Player of the Year, as well as the USA Today Player of the Year.
Many people have largely written Oden off as a foregone conclusion to the NBA draft in 2006. However, while publicly he has insisted of his intentions to go to college first, privately many sources close to him insist the same thing—that his college ambition is sincere.
It seems nearly a formality now that the NBA will pass some sort of age limit in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, which probably takes the decision out of Oden's hands to begin with. Given the amount Oden has probably heard about the NBA, we did not ask that same question to him in the interview.
However, here is the transcript of the interview with Oden, ScoutHoops.com's No. 1 junior in the country:
Bucknuts: Your AAU team (the Spiece Indy Heat) was in Arkansas this past weekend playing some good basketball up until the championship, but you weren't able to pull that one out. How frustrating was it for your team to lose that last game?
Greg Oden: "It was real frustrating, because you always want to win, especially a big tournament like that. It's OK, though. We will just have to bounce back, and the next tournament we play in, we want to win that one."
BN: You guys have played together for a long time. Is it easier bouncing back from a game like that knowing each other so well and knowing what you can do better?
Oden: "Every time you lose a game you know you want to bounce back even stronger. We just want to come out and prove everyone wrong, and I think that's why we do well together because we always want to be the best. We just want to come out and win the next tournament whenever we lose."
BN: What have you made a goal for yourself individually this spring to work on?
Oden: "Everything, honestly. But, if I were to pinpoint something it would be shooting and dribbling."
BN: You've been to a couple of visits, and it looks like you and Mike (Conley) are trying to narrow things down as far as your college choices go. Which schools are you looking at seriously?
Oden: "Ohio State, Indiana, Wake Forest, Michigan State, and North Carolina."
BN: I read this weekend where it has been reported you said that Ohio State is probably your leader right now, is that the case?
Oden: "Yeah, but my options are open. I don't know if I want to say that I have one yet."
BN: You guys are still planning on taking your visit to Wake Forest this weekend?
Oden: "Yes we are."
BN: Have you had your official visit set up to Ohio State yet?
Oden: "We're actually in the process of doing that now."
BN: Do you have any other visits planned besides the ones to Wake Forest and Ohio State, or is that going to be it?
Oden: "I have no idea, but that's probably it."
BN: Tell me what you know about Ohio State so far, and what interests you about them.
Oden: "I haven't had a chance to meet the players yet, but I've seen the campus, or at least most of it, and the campus is really nice. I like the coaches a lot and I think it's a great program."
BN: When the time comes to sit down with your friends, family, and everyone else to make a decision, what, if anything, will be the biggest factor in making your decision?
Oden: "I can't really say right now what that would be. I guess we will just have to see when the time comes."
Ohio State is hoping to bring Conley and Oden on campus in the next couple of weeks for their official visit. Both are visiting Wake Forest this weekend, and have been on unofficial trips to Wake Forest, Ohio State, Arkansas, and Michigan State. Additionally, Conley has been to Illinois, while Oden has also seen Indiana.
The Buckeyes have already landed their AAU teammate, Dayton Dunbar's Daequan Cook, who committed to Ohio State back in March and has been trying to persuade them to join him at Ohio State.
Ohio State is hoping to land a class that consists of Cook, Oden, Conley, Cleveland's David Lighty, and Memphis' Thaddeus Young, who has recently shown a lot more interest in Ohio State, especially if the other guys commit.
If Ohio State were able to land such a class, it would be on par arguably with some of the better recruiting classes in recent memory, including some of Duke's impressive hauls, North Carolina's current junior class, and the well known "Fab Five" that Michigan signed in the early 1990's.
Conley and Oden have been showing interest in Ohio State for several months, but reportedly Ohio State jumped up a notch in their recruitment after a terrific in-school visit to Lawrence North by OSU head coach Thad Matta a couple of weeks ago. That visit reportedly lasted for nearly two hours.
Sources say that Ohio State and Wake Forest seem to be the two likely possibilities for these two, although Indiana is still involved with Oden especially. We also continue to hear it's more likely that Oden and Conley will go to the same school.