Durant, Oladipo show their moves in Goodman League
Further proof of Victor Oladipo's ascension from unheralded DeMatha prospect to the No. 2 overall in the NBA Draft came Sunday night at his former High School - against Kevin Durant.
Look past the high-rising guard's inclusion in the Goodman League Roundball Classic. Even with several future professional peers also on the court and John Wall observing from the sideline, it was Oladipo in the game's spotlight matchup versus the Oklahoma City Thunder star. Durant is the face of D.C. area basketball, not to mention part of an incredibly short list of those considered the best in the NBA.
The local products faced each other throughout, landing basketball-type haymakers via long distance shots, highlight dunks and tight defense until the final buzzer, which came without an actual winner declared. The game ended in a 116-116 tie.
"It was real fun just to go against him [after] growing up watching him play," Oladipo said. "It's just the competitive nature of both of us. He's a great player, one of if not the best player in the league."
The mano-y-mano type scenario developed in the second quarter. On one possession, Oladipo stole the ball from Durant and quickly went into offensive mode with a fast break dunk. Moments later, the Orlando Magic rookie and supposedly suspect perimeter shooter pulled up from just inside half court and drained a 3-pointer.
The 6-foot-11 Durant, who finished with a game-high 40 points, then backed down the 6-foot-3 Oladipo before fading back for a high degree of difficulty 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I'm happy for him," Durant said of Oladipo. "He worked his way to the top so you've got to respect him. I was going to support him since he came from this area. We've kind of got a brotherhood, everybody in the league that's from this area. I know he's going to do well."
Durant scored the final basket at the end quarters one, two and three, but nobody scored a true final basket.
With the score tied in the final seconds, Durant blocked Oladipo's attempt at a game winning 3-pointer. In theory, overtime was up next, but fans who had watched the doubleheader action joined the players on the court and organizers waived the white flag.
"Nobody got hurt so it ended like that," said David Hawkins (Archbishop Carroll/Temple). "I'm sure Kevin was showing [Victor], 'welcome to the NBA' and Victor was repping his home court. It was fun."
Fun, sure, though for Oladipo, surreal is the more apt description.
"It means a lot to me," said the Upper Marlboro native, who finished with 28 points. "I grew up here, basically. I went to school down the street five minutes away. I came to this High School under recruited. To come back and play in this prestigious game after growing up watching games like this with the KD's and the Mike Beasley's and then to play on the same court as them is a blessing."
Other notables included Greg Monroe (Georgetown/Pistons), Thomas Robinson (Eastern/Trailblazers), ex-Wizard Roger Mason (Good Counsel), Austin Freeman (DeMatha/Georgetown). Regardless, especially in these parts, nobody is more notable than Durant is.
"Everybody wants to see Kevin," said Wall, who set next to Durant during the game and spoke with CSNwashington before tipoff.
"He's one of the top two best players in the league," Wall said of Durant. "He's going to do what he do. It's just exciting to be here. Even though I'm not playing, I always come out and show support."
Those in the stands, including Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell, did not have to wait until the main event for a glimpse of Durant playing. In the preliminary game, the Goodman League held a 15-point halftime lead over their counterparts from the Watts League. Moments after arriving at the gym wearing his customary backpack, Durant surprisingly entered the game of non-pros for Watts. With his hustling, defending and 3-point making ways, Watts won by eight points.
After the main event and in between the picture taking and autograph signing, Durant talked about supporting Oladipo, the latest basketball savant emerging from the D.C. area.
"It's his time. I'm happy for him," Durant said. "It's my job to help pave the way for him like the guys who did that for me. Of the D.C. basketball guys, he's the new face of it. I'm looking forward to seeing him play [in the NBA]."
Oladipo, who faces the Wizards at the Verizon Center on December 2, can't wait to oblige.
"Those guys are proven," Oladipo said." I haven't even played a game yet. I'm just looking forward to going out there."