Be glad we got Oden for one season
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Posted Apr 2, 2007

ATLANTA - While Kevin Durant continues to sweep up every known national award known to mankind, Greg Oden will take the floor one last time in an Ohio State uniform on Monday night.

We got 32 more games than we ever could have imagined.

Au revoir, big fella. Adios.

When Greg Oden and his Buckeyes try to put a roadblock in front of Florida's repeat hopes on Monday night in the national championship game, it will almost certainly spell the conclusion of a brief career that consisted of about 900 total minutes.

Sure, Joakim Noah shocked the world when he and his teammates announced they were coming back for another ride. However, don't be naïve enough to believe Oden will follow suit.

When asked when Oden will speak to his future agent, Mike Conley Sr., he said he has "no idea."

That's because a conversation doesn't even need to take place.

It's alright, though. We were blessed because it may be another decade before someone like Oden comes along again in the college ranks.

We're not even going to start comparing the 7-footer to Bill Russell. He did that for us on Sunday.

"I'm nowhere near him," Oden said.

Oden doesn't want the attention, but he gets it wherever he goes — both on and off the court. The double-teams have been a constant ever since he can remember and the fans and media have suffocated him as well.

Oden may not enjoy dealing with the media, but he's a born pro.

He's articulate, humorous at times and insightful.

He's humble, respectful and thoughful.

After his head-to-head performance against Roy Hibbert the other night in which the Georgetown junior may have come out slightly on top, Oden didn't display a hint of jealousy.

"Big Roy's so big," Oden said. "All you can do is put your hands up."

The craziest thing about Oden is that it's not an act — as it is with so many players. What you see is what you get. He's real.

"I've looked at coaching Greg as more of a privilege," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. "He's cast into this spotlight. Greg is a kid. He's 19 years old. He has tremendous character and values."

Here's an example: Oden goes up against Kyle Madsen every day in practice. Madsen is a transfer who isn't allowed to travel with the team due to NCAA rules. The first thing on Oden's mind after the game was whether Matta would be able to get Madsen down for the championship game.

Back when Oden and Mike Conley Jr., were deciding where to go to college, Oden was torn between wanting to play alongside Conley and wanting to go somewhere else so that each could make a name for himself away from the other's shadow.

There'll be no bulletin board material from Oden in the Gators locker room. That will come courtesy of Oden's teammate, Ron Lewis, who called the defending champs "good."

"He's a very confident guy and he can back up what he says," Oden said of Florida's trash-talking junior big man Joakim Noah. "He's a great player."

Oden understands that Billy Donovan's game plan will include Noah, Al Horford and even Chris Richard taking it to the big man in waves.

"Everyone knows they're going to come at me right away," Oden said. "I just have to play hard and stay out of foul trouble."

It's no surprise that Oden, who missed the first seven games due to off-season wrist surgery, is still standing in the final game of the season. He's won three straight state titles in high school and a pair of AAU crowns.

Now he's looking to add a national championship to his collection.

Then it'll be time for Oden to formally introduce himself to Shaquille O'Neal.

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