Family Members, Friends React To Oden, Conley

The circle of family and friends around Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. reacts to the Wednesday announcement that they plan to play college basketball at Ohio State. Click here for more on the decision process and how they settled on Ohio State.

There was a mixed feeling of excitement and relief on Wednesday afternoon. For the coaches, parents, teammates, and friends of Mike Conley and Greg Oden, the press conference at Lawrence North High School to announce their selection of Ohio State couldn't come soon enough.

And now it's over for these two talented seniors-to-be.

As Conley, a 6-1 guard, and Oden, a 7-0 center, announced their intentions to attend Ohio State on Wednesday, those around them were giving their reactions to a process that has been given a considerable amount of press.

Conley selected Ohio State over Wake Forest, while his friend and teammate chose the Buckeyes over Wake Forest, Michigan State and Indiana. Conley's father, former Olympian Mike Conley Sr., said that this is a decision they have wanted to make for a couple of months.

"In April is when I kind of got that impression (that they wanted to go to Ohio State)," Conley Sr. explained. "They really started talking more about it about that time."

Conley Sr., who coaches the two on the Spiece Indy Heat in AAU basketball, said that although the Buckeyes were the clear favorites late in the process, it wasn't always that way.

Up until March or April, Wake Forest was a clear cut leader for Conley. In fact, Conley had been favoring the Demon Deacons since his freshman season.

However, it was the middle of March when that all changed for both he and Oden, according to the elder Conley.

"After Daequan (Cook) committed," Conley Sr. said of when things swayed Ohio State's way instead of Wake Forest. "That was when he realized there were other places out there that might suit him, and that Daequan wasn't going to Wake Forest. Before that, I think he was hoping Daequan would go to Wake Forest and make things easier. But that started shifting at that point."

For Oden's mother, Zoe, it was an easy choice.

She said that from the very time she met Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, she trusted him to coach her son. That's why she was sold on Ohio State.

"I felt like he was going to take care of my son and that he would help him with basketball, academics and life," Oden said of Matta. "I felt really comfortable with Ohio State."

She sensed her son really wanting to attend Ohio State after returning from the official visit on May 8.

"He was pretty stuck on Ohio State at that time," she said. "After that I think he just wanted to be fair to the other schools and listen to them."

Ohio State was not previously on the radar for Conley or Oden a year ago when the university was making the transition from Jim O'Brien to Matta.

Shortly after being hired by Ohio State in the first week of July last year, Matta continued to recruit the pair as he had done previously at Xavier, but this time it was to Ohio State.

That's when Ohio State became an option.

"It was at one of the camps where I saw him walking around with an Ohio State shirt on, and that's when it kind of hit me," Conley said. "It was weird because I was so used to seeing him with a Xavier shirt on. But after that we started thinking about Ohio State."

Within just a few months, Oden and Conley were at Ohio State on an unofficial visit, when they toured the Ohio State campus at a football game last September. Throughout the season, Ohio State continued to stay near the top of the list.

Ohio State gained a lot of momentum during the season as Dayton Dunbar star, Daequan Cook—also a teammate of Oden and Conley on the Indy Heat, talked more and more to Oden and Conley about the Buckeyes.

Ever since Cook committed to Ohio State in March, he has felt confident the two would join him. When Cook committed, he did so hoping other top players would eventually commit.

Since then, Cleveland's David Lighty and now Oden and Conley have all followed his lead.

"I just made the decision that Ohio State was the place for me, and I wanted to go to Ohio State whether they did or not," Cook said. "I decided I would go there and maybe other players like Mike and Greg would follow me and we can build something great at Ohio State. Thad Matta is a great coach and he's the guy I wanted to play for."

Although Cook has known for a little over two months about the likelihood of Conley and Oden joining him in Columbus, he said he found out officially three or four days ago.

Cook is excited to be able to continue calling Conley and Oden teammates.

"I'm very excited about this," Cook said of their commitment. "I'm excited for them and for me. I really was hoping they would go to Ohio State with me, but I didn't want to pressure them and now people don't have to ask if they would go with me."

For everything in this process, Conley Sr. said there was a rhyme and reason. Most of the decision-making was done by the kids themselves, but Conley Sr. said he moderated the process just enough to keep them from rushing anything.

He said he wanted to make sure they took in all the facts before making any decisions.

"Keeping them in the process, which was important, is what I did," Conley said of his son and Oden. "After Thad (Matta) talked to them, I think they were ready to commit. It's my job to say, ‘that's fine, but you're not doing it today'.

"I said to them that you're going to take your visits, you're going to talk to the coaches, and not commit one day after talking to someone. I told them they needed to consider all their options and make an educated decision and go through the process," he added.

Almost unilaterally, the reaction and feeling was the same for the friends, coaches, and family members. They agreed that Ohio State was the right place for them.

"We just felt that Ohio State was the best place for us to further our education and basketball," Oden said. "That's where we wanted to go."

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