We may never see another Indiana University basketball player rise as quickly as Victor Oladipo did this past basketball season.
I thought I would start with that because I believe it 100%. Victor Oladipo in the 2012-13 season was a very different Victor Oladipo from the 2011-12 season. The Victor Oladipo who was "athletic, yet couldn't shoot" improved his shooting numbers by a whole lot. Not only could he get to the rim; he was now a threat from deep. He also improved his dribbling skills and became an absolute stat stuffer. The one thing I noticed last season from Victor was how well he could finish at the rim, and how quickly he made an impact in a game. He would automatically grab a rebound, a loose ball, or make that much needed great pass. He simply became one of the most efficient players in the nation.
At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, few people outside of Indiana fans seemed to give him much, if any, attention. Many realized that he was very gifted athletically, but few knew how high he could rise. Some thought he would have the chance to turn pro after his junior year, but no one knew for sure how much he had improved. He went from not being talked about in the preseason National Player of the Year discussion, to becoming one of the front runners for the award. After his great junior season, he decided to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Who could blame him? Many agreed that he would be a top 10 pick. But the Rise of Victor Oladipo didn't end after the Indiana basketball season. He has continued to impress scouts and GM's in the NBA. Chad Ford, ESPN's NBA Draft guru, has proclaimed that 14 or 15 NBA GM's like him the best of any prospect in the Draft. His new mock draft, released yesterday, has Victor in the #2 spot, behind Nerlens Noel. How good of a professional will he be? The consensus seems to be that he has much more potential than Zeller. Only time will tell, but if he works as hard as he has at IU, I like his chances.
That's how I'll always remember Victor. As a relentless gym rat, the kid who wore out his swipe card because he went in and out of Cook Hall so many times. The kid who created the "365 days a year" culture on the IU basketball team. The charismatic, athletic, low key recruit who made a name for himself through plain old hard work. The kid who graduated in 3 years. The kid who threw down this dunk in the Kentucky game, and this almost-dunk against Michigan (one of the greatest missed dunks I've ever seen). The kid who will hopefully be a role model for Indiana basketball players in the years to come. He's someone all Hoosiers can be proud of, and I can't help but feel like his story is just beginning.