Oladipo Becomes IU's Most-Buzzed-About Player

Coming into this season, it seemed the most likely NBA draft prospects among the current Hoosier lineup were Cody Zeller (duh!) and Kentucky-killer Christian Watford. But two games into IU’s Big Ten campaign, with today’s tough matchup against eighth-ranked Minnesota looming (noon, Big Ten Network), another player is getting all the buzz: Victor Oladipo.

With marked improvement in his jump shot—he’s hitting 46 percent of 3-pointers on 22 attempts—and an even more prolific demonstration of defensive craftsmanship (34 steals) and take-it-to-the-rim playmaking (13.6 ppg) than Hoosier fans have grown accustomed to seeing in his previous two seasons, Oladipo has emerged as the most electrifying presence on the court in most of IU’s contests.

And the nation is taking notice.

Yesterday ESPN college-basketball guru Andy Katz argued that Oladipo’s absence from the mid-season list of Wooden Award finalists was a major oversight.

“I’ve been touting the impact of Oladipo throughout this season,” Katz wrote. “He is a game-changer. He makes winning plays and has altered the way Indiana plays the game. Oladipo’s energy is infectious. He reads the passing lanes and creates points off turnovers … But it is his ability to take Indiana to another level that has changed the Hoosiers. Indiana will win the national title if Oladipo is heavily involved. He is as integral to this team as any other starter.”

High praise indeed. And although such recognition must be taken with a grain of salt, the 6-5 junior guard has become a fixture in the mock 2013 NBA drafts proliferating on the Internet. The site draftexpress.com projects Oladipo as a late first-round pick, 27th overall, and nbadraft.net lists Oladipo as a high second-rounder. (Zeller is slotted among the top three on both mock drafts, with no mention of Watford on either.)

The last time IU had two players selected in the draft was 2008, when both Eric Gordon and D.J. White went in the first round.

But let’s hope that if Zeller and Oladipo—underclassmen both—do decide to come out, and they are selected, the program fares better than it did in the wake of Gordon and White’s departures.

Since first joining Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, West has written about a wide range of subjects including crime, history, arts and entertainment, pop culture, politics, and food. His feature stories have twice been noted in the Best American Sports Writing anthology and have received top honors from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The Collapse,” West’s account of the 2011 Indiana State Fair tragedy, was a 2013 National City and Regional Magazine Awards finalist in the category of Best Reporting. He lives on the near-east side.