Think about it: Had the NBA continued opening its doors to kids fresh out of high school, Oden would've been playing pro ball in 2006-07, instead of leading Ohio State to two defeats of Tennessee. The second of those defeats came in the Sweet 16 and ended the Vols' NCAA Tournament run. In fact, it was Oden's last-second block of a driving layup attempt by Ramar Smith that sealed the one-point victory.
Oden was not planning to attend college until the NBA altered its policy on drafting high school players. So, shortly after putting in his one compulsory season at OSU, he is jumping to the pro ranks.
"This is a very tough decision for me," Oden said in a statement released Friday afternoon by Ohio State. "I love OSU and love being a Buckeye, but I also have a great opportunity to take my game to the next level and compete with the best players in the world. I've discussed this with family, friends and Coach [Thad] Matta, and I feel the time is right."
For Tennessee, of course, the time would've been even more right one year ago.
Without Oden's block of Smith's last-second shot, Tennessee might've won its Sweet 16 game by a point instead of losing by a point. The Vols then would've played their Elite Eight game against a Memphis team they spanked by 17 points three months earlier. A win there would've sent them against Georgetown in the Final Four. A win there would've sent them into the title game against a Florida team they beat three times in four meetings the past two years.
So, if the NBA hadn't changed its rule and Oden hadn't enrolled at Ohio State, UT might be the reigning national champ in both men's and women's basketball.