It’s been more than a decade since Greg Oden had to make the same decision that Keita Bates-Diop has been wrestling with. As last year’s Big Ten player of the year has been deciding whether to return to Ohio State for a fifth year or head to the NBA, where he is projected to be a first-round draft pick, the redshirt junior said he planned to speak with former Buckeyes who had to weigh similar decisions.
In the interim between when Ohio State’s season ended with a second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Gonzaga and today, when Bates-Diop has a 2 p.m. press conference scheduled to announce that he is heading to the NBA, the two had a conversation. Oden said his advice was simple.
“First off you’ve got to meet with your family and the next step you make has to be comfortable for you first and then your family,” Oden told The Dispatch late last week. “That’s the big thing, making sure everything that’s about to happen to him that he’s comfortable with (it) and he’s the one making the decision because now it’s his life. He needs to be the person making those decisions about it. You need your family there to question about it and feel comfortable about it, but these next steps, it’s all you. You’ve got to deal with the consequences wherever you go.”
After leading Ohio State to the national championship game as a freshman during the 2006-07 season, Oden declared for the NBA and was taken with the first overall pick. Injuries cut his career short, and he is currently a student assistant coach for the Buckeyes while taking classes toward completing his degree.
ESPN has reported that Bates-Diop will declare for the draft and forego his final season of eligibility, and multiple sources have not denied the development to the Dispatch. He is widely projected to be taken late in the first round.
The coming weeks will be critical for Bates-Diop, Oden said.
“I’d tell him it’s going to be hard,” he said. “Being in the middle of the pack of players, it’s going to be a fight. You’ve got to stand out in these workouts. You’ve got to get better since the season ended. You’ve got to improve and show these teams that there’s something in you that they want and that they can work with. Being the best player, the smartest player you possibly can be is where you have to go.”