Oden Focused On "Just Playing"

Since committing to Ohio State earlier in the summertime, the recruiting pressure has been off center Greg Oden of Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North. Now Oden is back in school and is focusing on the classroom, where he is off to a good start. Kyle Lamb caught up with Oden to talk about his summer as well as what plans he has for the coming months and his thoughts on when he will sign with Ohio State.

It's not really a motivation issue for Greg Oden. He just simply needs to be tested every once in a while. Right now, that's not happening enough.

The 7-0 center from Indianapolis Lawrence North is the unanimous choice for being the top player in the class of 2006. ScoutHoops.com is no different.

Since summer has ended, that means all of the competitive basketball games have ended, and school, notably his senior season, has begun. What's Oden up to now? He's putting together a 4.0 GPA this year, and playing in open gyms.

That's apparently not enough for the soft-spoken Oden.

"It's OK. We really haven't been doing much though," he said of how he's enjoyed school thus far as a senior. "School is all right I guess. Basketball-wise, we just have open gym a few times a week so there's not really much going on."

Coming off a busy summer in which Oden was reaffirming his status of being the top player in the nation, he also ended his long publicized recruitment by picking Ohio State over Wake Forest, Michigan State and Indiana along with his high school teammate Mike Conley.

That extra time and energy has come in handy and been a big sigh of relief for Oden, who is seemingly always finding time to accompany autograph seekers, answer questions or do media interviews. And further, he does so with a smallish grin and nothing but the sincerest of manners.

"Yeah, I mean it's a real big weight off my shoulders," Oden said of the newfound sense of normalcy. "I don't have to worry about the colleges, letters and all I have to do now is just play."

With the extra time on his hands, Oden joined Conley in Columbus a few weeks ago for the Ohio State – Texas football game where they spent their time with fellow 2006 commitments David Lighty and Daequan Cook.

Not surprisingly, Oden had a good time.

"It was a lot of fun – a lot of fun," he noted of the trip for a day. "There was a lot of people. I wish all of the students were there, but I really had a great time."

An afternoon of tailgating and a football game that ran late into the night was not a big deal to Oden, who seems to get by on everything rather easily.

"We didn't do too much. We just watched the game and left," Oden explained.

Oden said that he enjoyed spending time with the rest of the recruits, including recruiting targets in the 2007 class from Ohio, and also Lighty.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "We got to know a lot of the guys pretty good. I finally got to hang with David Lighty a lot more, so that was good."

Now Oden's attention will be focused on November. That's when his team's official tryouts will be, it's when his season will official start at the end of the month and he also hopes it's when he can sign his national letter-of-intent with Ohio State.

Oden says the only way he and Conley would not sign is if they don't have a real good idea on what might happen with Ohio State's NCAA case beforehand, but he reiterated they would still sign in April as a worst-case scenario barring any major unforeseen change in circumstances.

But as of now, he's not sure what will happen.

"I would definitely like to sign early, but I don't have all the information on that yet so I don't know," Oden said.

Although that seems like a hectic month, for Oden it's just the continuation if a year-round basketball season – in which he may or may not be tested.

Highlighting Lawrence North's schedule is a December 8 contest in Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis against Dayton Dunbar. The game will feature Oden and Conley against their AAU teammates Cook and Aaron Pogue.

"I hope we can beat him," Oden said with a big chuckle. "It will be fun going up against him, Aaron (Pogue) and Darren (Powell). It's going to be fun."

And the last time he will play against Cook for a while, most likely.

"Well, except for in practice obviously," Oden corrected.

In the offseason, or what Oden makes it sound like his personal down time, he has been working on a lot of fundamentals and workouts to improve his game. He feels like he's made some progress.

"I know that I've been shooting a lot more jump shots," he noted. "I have a lot more of a shooter's mentality now, but I've just got to work on my shot and the rest of my offensive game."

"I'm still working on it though," he added.

That's not surprising. As we said, it certainly isn't a motivation issue for Oden. He's just looking for new challenges.

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