Indiana coach Tom Crean is one that always preaches about energy and passion through his players, the Indiana community and his coaching staff. So far this season, as the team's first in the last few years with heavy pre-season expectations, no one has displayed that mentality more than junior Victor Oladipo.
The energy he brings on a night-in, night-out basis is second to none, and that goes with the fact that many proclaim him as the most athletic wing in the nation. With that in mind, the ceiling on this kid is much higher than people may come to realize at first glimpse.
Coming into college, Oladipo was rated No. 144 on Rival's Top 150, but that has not stopped him from being one of the top playmakers on the No. 1 team in the country this season. Last night, against Coppin State, he showcased just what makes him such a special talent.
In a slow start for the Hoosiers, which is starting to become a trend this season, Oladipo's defensive intensity set the standard as they started to get going. Recording 20 deflections on the night, which Indiana coach Tom Crean tweeted is a record in his tenure with the Hoosiers, is the most a Crean player has recorded since Dwyane Wade in 2003 against Tulane.
However, this type of defensive intensity is not an unusual one with Oladipo. Consistently last season, he was matched up with an opponent's best player, even Michigan State's Draymond Green, who is much bigger than he is and plays a different position. In that game, Indiana upset No. 5 Michigan State by 15 points.
This sort of consistency on the defensive end will go a long way in the NBA, as it led him to eighth place in the Big Ten last year in steals as a sophomore and has him averaging over two steals and five rebounds per game.
On the other side of the floor, he is no slouch either. With his athleticism and ability to get to the rim, he is averaging just over 12 points per game on one of the offensive teams in the country.
One of the biggest knocks on his offensive talent, according to NBADraft.net, is his ability to knock down jump shots. This season, however, he is starting to show improvement in that area. And, the fact that his coach, Tom Crean, is constantly talking about his outstanding work ethic, one can assume that this will only improve with time.
Right now, he is shooting 30 percent from three-point range, but is taking shots with much more confidence than last season, rather than forcing it to the paint. His field-goal percentage is always a good number with his speed and ability to get his own shot, which is a trait that can not be undervalued. Because of that ability, he is shooting 64.7 percent from the field thus far, making him one of the team's most efficient scorers.
That type of raw ability will definitely translate to the next level. While he still may have some fundamentals to correct, that will be a very feasible feat with his work ethic.
And potential plays a very heavy part in the way NBA General Managers draft, especially in this day and age. Andre Drummond and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last season are great examples of this, though extreme ones, of people with great potential and a sky-is-the-limit upside who were drafted very high in the NBA Draft.
While Oladipo probably will not sneak into the lottery, he is definitely a player who, at this point, can go early in the second round. And, with even more improvement and another year of college eligibility, Oladipo definitely has the ability and talent to be a first-round draft pick, and, from there, a very effective NBA player on both ends of the floor.