The simplest part Thursday night for NBA Commissioner David Stern will come when he makes the announcements for the first and second picks of the draft. As many have predicted former Buckeye Greg Oden will be selected by the Portland Trailblazers with Texas product Kevin Durant hearing his name called by the Seattle Super Sonics. After these two are called it’s anybody’s guess who will follow and when they’ll see their name called.
While Buckeye fans will get the joy of hearing Oden’s name first he won’t be the only former Buckeye enjoying the joys of the moment or the windfall of possible earnings it will bring. Let’s look at each of the three Buckeyes expected to hear his name called Thursday night.
GREG ODEN – CENTER
The time spent in Columbus was too short for Buckeye fans but would have never happened if not for the change in rules by the NBA. Buckeye fans will always have the great run to the NCAA Finals provided by Oden & Company this past season, but what if he would have stayed for another season or two with his running mates? The Buckeyes would have been the odds on favorite to win it all.
What type of pro will Greg Oden be? Time will only tell for the player many have compared to the likes of Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan and Bill Russell. While I don’t see the Ewing comparisons I do see how someone could make a comparison to Russell. Oden will help Portland take the next step towards getting back to the top of the Western Conference in the very near future his defensive abilities alone, as his offense grows he’ll be even a harder force to be reckoned with and the Trailblazers a team to watch.
MIKE CONLEY – GUARD
Mike Conley has seen his stock climb and he’s expected by many to go no farther than fifth in the draft. Some have him going to Atlanta while others say Memphis. But with trade talks surrounding the draft as well as the foreign players that climb up the ladder you never know what could happen. In the end Conley is the ideal guy to run the show for any team in the league and may have just as big of an impact on his team during his rookie season as Oden.
DAEQUAN COOK – GUARD
No one player was hurt more by the NBA rules change against high school players entering the draft than Daequan Cook. As a senior at Dayton Dunbar, Cook was considered one of the top players who many felt could see his name called early in the first round. Instead Cook learned some hard lessons during his short stay at Ohio State and many felt him entering the draft to be a major mistake.
Was it the pressure to support his family or just the yearning of being at the next level that made Cook take the risk and jump off the Buckeyes wagon? Many feel it was a little of both while Cook took all the talk from critics and turned in some great workouts bringing his stock back into the first round.
While projected to go late in the first round, Cook could find his name called by a team already poised to win championships and able to allow him the chance to continue working on his overall game.
All three former Buckeyes have left a mark on their short stay in Columbus. With a new exciting class of freshmen headed to OSU this fall, fans can be thankful for the excitement all three provided over the course of their recruiting and only season on campus.
Congrats to all three and continued success at the next level.