Victor Oladipo was an unknown when he arrived on campus in Bloomington, Indiana. He was not chased after or pined over like other No. 2 picks might have been coming out of high school. This moment was not in his future.
A three-star prospect out of Dematha Catholic High School in Hyatsville, Md., had offers from Indiana and then George Mason, Maryland, VCU and SMU. Hardly the murderer's row of college programs.
Three years later, Oladipo was realizing his dream. The moment came as something of a surprise as the Orlando Magic selected Victor Oladipo with the second pick in the NBA Draft.
"It was when David Stern called my name," Oladipo said on when he found out the Magic would take him. "It was just a surreal experience. It was definitely an unbelievable experience. I'm glad I got to do it with my family and my friends. Just going down there on a visit to Orlando was crazy. It was fun. They knew what they were doing, it was very thorough and I had a great time. I'm glad I'm able to go out there and impact winning and help change the program in a positive way."
The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 13.6 points per game while shooting 59.9 percent from the floor and 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Oladipo's offensive skills are growing too. His scoring has increased each of his three years. He saw his effective field goal percentage rise to 64.8 percent last year and his true shooting percentage stood at a solid 67.1 percent. Both were tops in the Big Ten and top 10 in the nation.
There was a lot to like about Oladipo according to Magic general manager Rob Hennigan.
"We like Victor because we feel like Victor has a work ethic and an approach to the game that will allow him to continually improve," Hennigan said. "We felt that way about a lot of players. It was his approach, his work ethic and his tenacity which really resonated with us."
It was a breakout junior season for Oladipo who before last year was only a defensive player. That hustle and effort will not go away as he goes to the pros. He said he feels his skills will translate.
"I definitely see it transferring over and that's because of my constant work ethic," Oladipo said. "And I'm going to keep working at it. I'm definitely going to get intot he gym and work on my offensive game and try to be the best at it. I definitely see it transferring and I just can't wait to get started and showcase my skill."
Oladipo said the Magic will not see anyone who has worked harder than him in his post-Draft interview with Shane Battier on the broadcast.
"I'm looking forward to meeting my teammates, getting to know them and building their trust because I'm going to war with them every night," Oladipo said. "And I want them to be able to trust me that."
That is something that many definitely felt the Magic would look for in a player. That fits the culture they want to build.
It also means there might be some pressure on Arron Afflalo now as Oladipo seems clearly to be the Magic's shooting guard of the future. He should be a defensive stalwart for some time to come. If he develops correctly. And who knows what will happen as his shot continues to improve and his confidence grows.
Hennigan and the Magic already liked the improvements he has made.
"I think he has a chance to be well-rounded in a lot of different areas. I think we started to see that this year with the jump that he made in a lot of the different statistical categories. As we looked at that, we felt it really speaks to his work ethic and his ambition and his drivein the summer to make him into a player. We like the fact that those spikes occurred, because we felt it was indicative of a relentless ambition to get better."
The Dwyane Wade comparisons might be setting a high ceiling, but having a slasher like that is always very valuable.
Oladipo is a hard worker and that is something that has defined his career. He was a complete unknown coming out of high school and turned into an absolute star this year in Indiana. He was a strong role player before then, but not anywhere near a top two pick.
"My defense is everything. It's the reason why I got here. It's the reason I'm at the point I'm in. And it's going to help me separate myself in the future. It's everything to me. I'm going to continue to keep growing in that area as well. I feel like that I can grow in different aspects of my defense too. I'm definitely going to bring that to the Orlando Magic program and do whatever it takes on the defensive end and help my team win."
Defense is where Oladipo cut his teeth and it is something coaches love to hear from young players. He seems ready to commit himself on that end from the start.
Oladipo was one of the featured players in Sports Illustrated's NCAA Tournament preview back in March. Tim Layden really did a good job laying out what motivates Oladipo:
It has been a remarkable season for Victor Oladipo, once considered a marginal prospect for teams at the highest level of college basketball and, through most of his first two years at Indiana, a solid player with as many holes in his game as strengths. He was dynamic and confident but incomplete — a better singer, his friends will attest, than shooter. (At least twice he has performed Usher's "U Got It Bad" for large audiences in Bloomington, including at the season-opening Hoosier Hysteria in October 2011; meanwhile, in his first two years he made only 18 of 74 three-point attempts and as a sophomore shot 52.3% on two-pointers).
This year Oladipo has leaped forward and become one of the best players in the country, complementing his explosive finishes and fierce defense with 64.2% two-point shooting and 44.3% on threes. On the eve of March Madness the 6' 5" Oladipo is the type of dangerous performer who could by the force of his passion and talent steer the wide-open NCAA tournament. At the same time, he has risen dozens of spots in the NBA draft, which he is likely to enter with a bachelor's degree in sport communication earned in three years. "Here is a guy who was just barely on [the NBA's] radar at the start of the year," says one league scout, "probably not even in the top 100 in the country. Now [he's] probably going to go in the lottery. It's very unusual to make a climb like that in one year."
It was a long journey for Oladipo getting to this point. It truly has been capped off with being selected with the No. 2 pick in the Draft. That was something he probably did not anticipate except in his dreams.
"To be honest, this is crazy," Oladipo said. "It's a surreal experience. This day has been crazy. I've been dreaming of this day for a long time. For this day to actually be here is a surreal feeling. I'm extremely humbled by it."
Oladipo came after the Cleveland Cavaliers suprisingly took Anthony Bennett of UNLV with the top overall pick after rumors they were bouncing between Alex Len and Nerlens Noel. The other surprise came when the Sixers traded all star Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Noel. Hennigan said the Sixers never approached the Magic with this offer.
The Magic selected Oklahoma forward Romero Osby with the 51st pick in the Draft. Osby scored 16.0 points per game while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc. Don't get too excited though, it is a small sample size from beyond the arc. Osby took only 17 3-point attempts last year.
"We watched Romero all year at Oklahoma and our scouting staff really liked him," Hennigan said. "At that point in the Draft, a lot of times, you just look for players you like regardless of what position or don't play. It was more a function of picking that late in the Draft and seeing someone still on the board that you liked."
Osby was a high-usage player at Oklahoma and he was able to score pretty effectively despite taking a lot of shots. He also averaged 7.0 rebounds per game for the Sooners. Osby scored 22 points in the NCAA Tournament second round last year against San Diego State.