When scouts and coaches talked about Victor Oladipo entering the Draft, it was all about his work ethic and his drive to continually improve. You only have to look at his career stats at Indiana to understand where Oladipo came from and the work he had to put in to get to the No. 2 pick in the 2013 Draft.
Or you could look at his face when Rob Hennigan mentioned what his shooting was like his freshman year.
"I think if you take a look at where Victor was his freshman year and where he is now, night and day difference," Hennigan said. "We remember watching him as a freshman and, no offense, if he was standing on the shore he couldn't throw a rock in the ocean.
"But now that couldn't be further from the truth. And that speaks again to will power. If you put your mind to something and put the effort in, not always, but usually things will pay off for you. If you talk to people around the Indiana program — talk to the coaches, people who are associated with the program — they will all tell you the same thing. The reason that Vic can hit jumpers now is because he put the time in. And we expect him to put even more time in now."
Oladipo shot 54.7 percent from the floor his freshman year, but only on 161 attempts. He was not a confident 3-point shooter either and his inconsistent offense limited him to 18.0 minutes per game. He was, for a long time, the guy teams left open when they played Indiana.
That is why Jay Bilas noted in talking about Oladipo during the NBA Draft broadcast about how Oladipo developed the ability to hit open jumpers. That does not seem like something you look for in a No. 2 overall pick.
Oladipo though learned that and is much more confident with the ball in his hands now. He shot 59.9 percent from the floor as a junior while averaging 13.6 points per game in 28.4 minutes per game. He is not a knock-down 3-point shooter, but his confidence from long range has grown as he shot 44.1 percent from beyond the arc just a year after shooting 20.8 percent on 3-pointers.
Once again, that improvement Oladipo credits to his tireless work ethic.
"Nothing has been given to me since Day One," Oladipo said. "My family always told me in order to achieve anything in this world, you have to work hard. That's what I've been trying to do. It has gotten me to this point and it is going to keep me going throughout my career. I'm just going to bring this work ethic that I have to this great organization and this team and build trust in my teammates and help us win."
Rob Hennigan said in learning about Oladipo and his family, they came to respect what he is all about and the discipline and "fortitude" he approaches the game with. You guessed what that is. The theme has been pervasive when talking about Oladipo as a prospect and now a player for the Magic.
Hennigan said the team made the final decision to select Oladipo a few days before the Draft.
Hennigan said Oladipo's mentality is consistent with the mentality the team wants to build and the mentality a lot of players already have (if you need a hint of that, note that Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless sat in on the press conference and many players have spent their offseason working out and playing together at Amway Center).
"As a coach, I'm just excited about these two young men," Jacque Vaughn said. "The commonality of their fiber, their thread, their makeup, the sense of competitiveness that we want to bring into our locker room. I think that they will both thrive in our environment and add to our environment. Those are important things for us going forward. I'm looking forward to being their coach for sure."
In everything that the team asked about Oladipo, Hennigan said it became apparent Oladipo views the game the way the Magic want their players to view the game and were about what the organization is about.
More than anything then, the selection of Oladipo — and second round pick Romero Osby — is all about building that mentality and culture. Oladipo, because of all those intangible skills everyone gushes about has come to represent a lot of those things.
"It's a very exciting day for the organization," Hennigan said. "We were able to draft two players who we feel are high caliber in terms of what they can do on the court. More importantly, we are really excited about what they represent off the floor and the type of human beings and the ype of men that they are. We could not be more excited about Vic and Ro and what they are going to add to our team and add to our identity."
This will not be Oladipo's first rebuild project either. Much of that hard work and tenacity was put to good use in helping Indiana rebuild after Kelvin Sampson's sudden firing. Tom Crean helped bring Oladipo in and the two were a big part of turning the Hoosiers around these last two seasons — back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.
Oladipo said the experience of having to work hard for and with his teammates in the gym helped him and his teammates bring the program back to that level. He said he feels the same thing can happen in Orlando.
The simple answer for Oladipo is that he is ready to get down to work and start working instead of reveling in the ego that may come from being No. 2. Oladipo said he knows a year ago no one was talking about Oladipo as a top pick or as Dwyane Wade.
It is a good feeling, but it can all be taken away quickly if he does not deliver.
"It has been a great feeling being able to go onto social media and everyone is excited for me to be here and also Ro to be here," Oladipo said. "It is just a humbling experience. You have been dreaming about stuff like this all your life. For it to actually come true is surreal. It's just a stepping stone in everyone's life. We are just looking forward to getting started, playing with our teammates and winning basketball games.