More Musings From Lawrence North

Indianapolis Lawrence North teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. met with the media for over an hour on Wednesday afternoon to discuss why they chose Ohio State. Click here for more on why they chose the Buckeyes and what they expect for their college careers.

The Indiana basketball gods were weeping or just really upset – take your pick.

As several hundred people listened to Indianapolis Lawrence North basketball stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. make their verbal commitment to play college basketball at Ohio State, a mid-afternoon thunderstorm that would have made Noah proud provided plenty of background noise.

It didn't matter because Oden and Conley were – at least in their hearts – already gone.

Oden, the 7-0 center billed as the nation's No. 1 overall senior-to-be, didn't blink when asked what reception he and Conley will get when they come home to Indiana to play the Hoosiers.

"I guess we'll hear some boos," Oden said without batting an eye.

During the course of Wednesday's press conference, the players dutifully answered why they picked Ohio State. Conley had also looked at Wake Forest, while Oden was also interested in Wake Forest, Indiana and Michigan State.

"We weren't a package deal," Conley said. "We each made our own individual decisions. We did bounce around and we did like different schools at different times.

"Greg's top choices were the same as mine. We just had a feeling that we liked Ohio State more and we went from there."

Conley admitted he never saw himself fitting into Indiana coach Mike Davis' system. Instead, he is excited about playing for Thad Matta at OSU.

"Their whole game plan, their style, it fits me," he said. "I feel I can make an impact in that system. The university is huge. I like the big-time schools. Everything about the university is great.

"(Matta) said a lot of creative things to express his vision of us going to that school. He wants to win the national championship. All the goals he had, we think we can make possible. We believed everything he had to say."

Some believed Oden could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. But that option was removed last week, when the league and its players union agreed on a new labor deal that mandates that players must be one year removed from high school to be eligible for the draft.

Oden said he had his reasons for pursuing a college career before venturing into the NBA.

"I was always looking at college," Oden said. "I was looking at the draft last night and they were drafting guys, and I was like, `Why are they drafting him? They're drafting off potential.'

"I want to be good enough that when they draft me I want people to understand why they drafted me."

Oden said he tries to emulate one of the game's very best.

"I try to play like Tim Duncan, but it's impossible," he said. "He's a great man."

Oden credited Conley for some of his success.

"He makes me a better player," Oden said. "He makes me look good. He passes the ball to me in the right position and I dunk it. I don't make a lot of great offensive moves. I just keep it up high and put it in the hole."

Conley said he, Oden and their AAU teammate Daequan Cook have big things in mind at Ohio State.

"We have very high expectations, all of us going there," he said. "Hopefully, our freshman year will be a great year. We want to go really far. We want to go as far as God will take us. We feel good about this situation."

Oden said, "Playing with Daequan and Mike, that's successful enough. You have those two great players on the floor, you're going to win. To bring that to the college level, I hope we can be successful there."

Oden and Conley said they were pretty sure OSU was the place for them after Matta made an in-school visit in April.

"I kind of knew after they came into the school," Oden said. "But (Mike Conley Sr.) told us to take a couple of weeks off and think about it."

Conley said he recalls telling Oden about his affinity for OSU.

"I think I brought it up to him," Conley said. "When they came to visit us at school, I was like, `I like the presentation they gave us. I want to go there.' When they visited the school, that blew me away. I pulled him over to the side and said, `This is a place I could see myself playing at.' He said the same thing, but we still had these other schools to look at."

Oden said he contacted Matta after playing in an exhibition game last Thursday in Richmond, Ind.

"I asked him, `What would you say about us doing something next week?' " Oden said. "His response was, `I don't drink, but when you do that I'm popping a bottle of champagne.'

"(OSU assistant Dan) Peters said a year ago, when Coach Matta got this job, he said, `We need to go after Oden and Conley.' (Peters) said, `I looked at him and was like, this guy's crazy.' He really did have a vision."

Also Quotable

* Conley on playing in Value City Arena -- "We visited, but we didn't get to go there for a game. By the looks of it when it was empty, it looked nice and new. I think it will be fun to play there."

* Oden on Conley's competitive nature and the game he had last week in Richmond after the Indiana seniors had won the first two games in their exhibition series -- "I know nobody can stop Mike if he's mad. Before every game, I hope he gets mad. I think he was tired of losing."

* Lawrence North coach Jack Keefer on the pair's school choices -- "The choices they had were excellent. I don't think they could have gone wrong with any choice they would have made. It is unbelievable how they have been treated and how the college coaches have treated them with respect. They gave them their space to make a decision."

* Keefer, joking, on his advice to Oden -- "I told Greg he needed to go where Mike is because he throws you the ball."

* Oden on visiting Ohio Stadium for a game last year -- "We were there for the Cincinnati game and it was nice. Hopefully, we can turn it from football (enthusiasm) and have that for basketball."

* Oden on what he likes about Matta -- "His enthusiasm. They have cool coaches, enthusiastic coaches and coaches who are laid back that you can talk to."

* Cook on the chance OSU has to contend for a national title -- "It's possible. It will just take work. It's easy to say, but you have to back it up with hard work."

* Oden's mother, Zoe, on what she liked about OSU -- "And I really liked Matta. His personality … he was easy to talk to. I know Greg will be in good hands. I just felt comfortable with him."

* Conley on communicating with Matta -- "He talks to me every day. He text messages me and I call him back and we talk about the guys they're looking at."

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