Victor Oladipo: From DeMatha to the NBA Lottery
HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- For a soon-to-be lottery pick, Victor Oladipo manages to balance more than a chip on his broad shoulders.
He has several.
“There are a lot of people they believe are way better than me in this draft. There’s a lot of people who say I’m pretty much overrated and stuff like that,” Oladipo told CSN Washington after going through an hour-plus workout for the New Orleans Pelicans, who hold the sixth overall pick, with GM Dell Demps and scouting director David Booth in attendance on Friday. “I have people second-guess me and don’t believe in my talents every day. It’s nothing new to me.”
Oladipo, who is projected as a shooting guard in the NBA, is turning pro after his junior season at Indiana when he averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists. He shot 60% from the field, including 44% from three-point range. His ability to defend, however, is what puts him so high on the draft board.
After visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers (first pick) and Phoenix Suns (fifth), Oladipo has been working out at his high school DeMatha Catholic just outside of Washington D.C. He declined a request to work out for the Wizards at Verizon Center, but they may come to see him before Thursday’s draft in New York. The only other team to visit Oladipo is the Minnesota Timberwolves (ninth pick).
Oladipo spent most of his time showcasing his shooting ability, a major question mark he must answer at the next level. He only shot 47% from the field as a sophomore, including just 20.8% from three.
“He’s added something every year. If you go all the way back to when he was here and how may times (then-assistant coach) David Adkins made him sit in the mirror and just work on his shooting form, to dribbling two balls everywhere he went,” said Mike Jones, Oladipo’s coach at DeMatha. “Now he’s walking around with a little mini-basketball because (former NBA player) T.J. Ford told him that’s the way you continue to develop your ball-handling ability. He’s always trying to add something to his game. He’s worked on every piece of it. If you watched the workout today, clearly shooting is no longer an issue for Victor.”
Oladipo wasn't facing defenders during his drills, but he showed NBA range particularly on spot-ups. He has drawn comparisons to NBA players such as Tony Allen, a first-team All-Defense in earning the most points from voters. But Allen, who shares the same agent as Oladipo in Raymond Brothers, has his limitations as an offensive player.
“I hear a lot of things, whether I can’t create my own shot. I need to work on this. I need to work on that, I’ll be a great role player. They compare me to players like Tony Allen. I’ll never be an All-Star, and things like that,” Oladipo said. “Tony Allen ain't a bad player: He’s a great player. Don’t get me wrong. He plays tremendous defense. I feel like I don’t want to limit myself. Even when I’m compared me to other players like Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook, I want to take all their games and mold them into one so I can be the best basketball player I can be.”
Despite the doubts, Oladipo is enjoying the process. He’ll be in New York on Tuesday to prepare for the draft and expects Indiana coach Tom Crean to be there, too.
The interview process is littered with surprises. When Oladipo went to the pre-draft combine in Chicago last month, he received two special requests. A smile finally cracked through his deadpan expression.
“In two of them, they had me sing for them. They heard I could sing,” said Oladipo, who had performed a song by Usher at a prep rally two years ago. “That was an interesting moment. It was kind of crazy because it was unexpected. I really like doing stuff like that.”
He’s convinced that he’s a leading man and won't be in the background.
“If I fall short from that it’s only because I didn't go in the gym and I didn't buy into it. It’s going to be my own doing. That’s what I truly believe,” Oladipo said. “If I feel satisfied, I feel like I don’t need to go in the gym and work anymore I’m going to limit myself and I’m going to come up short of my goals.
“It’s going to be fun. It seem like just yesterday school was over. It’s going by kind of fast. I’m enjoying the whole process. This is all new to me. Finally to have your dreams come true, it’s an amazing feeling. I can’t wait for Thursday.”