The rise of Victor Oladipo became one of basketball's better stories in 2013. It's just too bad most of us weren't following it from the beginning.
Oladipo went to DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, though he wasn't necessarily considered a blue-chip recruit. ESPN ranked him the No. 54 shooting guard in his class, while Rivals had him No. 41 at his position and No. 144 nationally.
It turns out Oladipo's father, Chris, initially had other plans for his son during the recruiting process. Chris wanted Victor to go to China for martial arts to "improve his self discipline," according to the Washington Post.
That apparently changed when a school like Indiana showed interest in his hoop skills.
Though not a highly touted name entering his freshman year, Oladipo quickly made it known that he'd be an integral cog in the team's short- and long-term rotation.
His first two years at Indiana, Oladipo looked like your classic four-year college standout without a realistic NBA future. Many thought the same even midway through his junior year.
Oladipo has no one on one game,no position and likely not an NBA rotation player,yet he still may be the most valuable player in college
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 3, 2013
As a freshman and sophomore, Oladipo was pretty much just a hustle guy for the most part. An electric athlete with a dynamite motor, Oladipo's presence was felt mostly on defense and in the open floor.
It wasn't til year No. 3 at Indiana when Oladipo really expanded his offensive game and raised his ceiling as a prospect. He averaged 13.6 points, making noticeable improvements with his shot creativity and perimeter stroke.
After converting only 18 three-pointers combined over his first two years, Oladipo nailed 30 as a junior at a scorching 44-percent clip.
His stock spiked in February, when Oladipo went for 15 points in a win over Michigan and 26 a week later in a win over Ohio State. Not only was he finishing plays, Oladipo was creating his own shots and generating his own offense.
He was always a spectacular attacker, with his long, quick strides and 42'' max-vertical leap. But soon, Oladipo would start knocking down shots from outside and separating off the dribble, and those Tony Allen comparisons quickly started turning into Dwyane Wade.
After being selected No. 2 overall, Oladipo carried his improved play straight into summer league, where he averaged 19 points and five assists on 53-percent shooting from downtown. Orlando even experimented with him at point guard in an attempt to get the ball into its prized rookie's hands.
Off the floor, Oladipo has a glowing reputation. He's got charm and charisma. He sings Usher, for God's sake.
Given his high character, fun style of play and tremendous positive energy, Oladipo should be an extremely marketable figure in today's NBA. I'd imagine that kids will want his jersey and companies will want his endorsement.
Oladipo will enter his first year with Orlando as one of the more NBA-ready rookies, which is ironic considering how few even considered him a legit prospect just seven months ago.
It will be interesting to see how he's used in a lineup with Arron Afflalo, the team's current starting shooting guard, under contract for the next three seasons. This is likely one of the reasons the Magic are trying Oladipo out at point guard—to increase his opportunities for action.
Regardless of what position he plays or how much burn he gets this season, Oladipo has a bright future as a player and representative of the sport. And if patterns and history mean anything at all, we should expect him to continue growing as both.
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