Oden, however, made no such pronouncement following Thursday night's exhibition between the Indiana senior all-stars and a junior select team. Oden and his Lawrence North and AAU teammate Mike Conley Jr. helped the juniors upset the seniors 109-96 Thursday night in Richmond, Ind.
In fact, the newspaper had no direct comments from Oden about verbaling.
Greg Oden - OSU bound?
It has widely believed for some time that Ohio State would be the choice for the talented twosome of Oden, the nation's No. 1 senior-to-be prospect according to ScoutHoops.com, and Conley. Their AAU teammate and OSU verbal, Dayton Dunbar's Daequan Cook, told Bucknuts.com this past weekend he was confident Oden and Conley would follow his lead and commit to the Buckeyes.
Other sources have said the same thing in background discussions for the past several weeks. In fact, another AAU teammate, Eric Gordon of Indianapolis, told reporters Thursday at the NBA Players Association camp that he expects Oden and Conley to end up at OSU.
But Conley's father, Mike Conley Sr., told ScoutHoops.com on Friday, "The boys haven't verbally committed anywhere yet. They still like Ohio State and Wake Forest. Their plan all along was to make a decision shortly after the Collective Bargaining Agreement was agreed upon – and they haven't even had a chance to sit down with their high school coaches yet."
Still, the timing makes sense in light of Tuesday's announcement that the NBA's new labor agreement will require incoming players to be at least one year removed from high school before being eligible for the draft.
Verbal commitments are non-binding. The earliest Oden and Conley could sign a letter-of-intent for OSU would be the fall early signing period, which begins Nov. 9.
"I think it's coming up soon," Oden told Bucknuts.com Thursday night about the timing of his decision.
"I like them a lot, but I like everybody else, too," he said. "I loved it (at Ohio State) on my visit. I had a lot of fun. That's all I needed."
Oden was asked about the NBA situation. His mother, Zoe, was outspoken about the new rule earlier this week. But Oden put his best foot forward on Thursday.
"I really wasn't considering the NBA," he said. "I want to go to college and experience the college life and develop into a young man. I want to develop my basketball game to the best of my abilities."
When asked if he intends to stay in college one year or multiple years, Oden – whom many believed could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft – said, "However long it takes, that's how long it will be."
The Indiana juniors team had dropped the first two games of the exhibition series designed to help the seniors prepare for all-star games against a Kentucky all-star team.
"We played together as a team and Mike had a perfect game," Oden said of the win, where he had 17 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots in 22 minutes. "We passed the ball around and we rebounded great."
Oden and Conley have been on a whirlwind schedule of late. They played in the USA Basketball Festival over the weekend of June 9-11. Then, they returned home to play in this intense three-game series. This weekend, they join their Lawrence North teammates at Purdue's team camp.
"It's not that bad," Oden said of the schedule. "The coaches understand. They give me a lot of rest."
Conley's Big Night
The news of Oden's apparent decision put the incredible showing by Conley on the back burner.
Conley had 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting (4 of 8 on three-pointers) to go with 10 assists, four rebounds and no turnovers. He played 35 minutes of the 40-minute game.
"He handles the ball great," Oden said. "You can't do anything else but score. He's the perfect point guard."
After the previous two losses, Conley was glad to get the win.
"The first game, we didn't come to play," Conley said. "Everybody came out on fire tonight and playing good defense."
Conley was asked where he was getting his energy from after such a grueling stretch.
"I have no idea," he said. "I'm just trying to make myself a better player."
Conley told reporters he expected he and Oden to have an announcement soon.
"Now that the ruling came out, we're going to try and make our day closer to the end of June or early July," Conley said. "We're trying to get it over with. We're getting a little sick and tired of the phone calls from all of the schools."
Conley and Oden are due to attend the Reebok ABCD Camp in New Jersey in early July.
"We're trying to keep (the announcement) in our home state," Conley said. "I'm sure it will probably get out, though."
No truer words could not have been spoken – less than 12 hours later the major newspaper in their hometown had let the cat out of the bag.
If true, Oden and Conley would join Cook and Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph standout David Lighty in an impressive recruiting class. All four of them are ranked in ScoutHoops.com's national top 30 for the Class of 2006 with Oden No. 1, Cook eighth, Lighty 21st and Conley 26th.
Stay tuned to Bucknuts.com early next week for video highlights and interviews from the Indiana senior-junior exhibition game.