The sooner Oladipo bolts Bloomington, the better for IU

April 10, 2013
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In the case of Victor Oladipo's bolting IU for the NBA, it’s not good riddance to bad rubbish. Far from it.

But the quicker the junior guard beats a path out of Bloomington, and begins earning his keep in the pro ranks, the better for IU Coach Tom Crean—and his recruiting efforts.

And, no, this has nothing to do with IU's needing Oladipo’s roster spot for one of its many recruits—even though that is true, too.

Oladipo, more than any player over the last decade and certainly during Crean’s tenure in Bloomington, is the guy who could return IU to national prominence—more than he already has—and make Crean a rock star with recruits—more than he already is.

In his three years on the court, Oladipo has helped take the Hoosiers from the cellar to the Big Ten title, from national laughingstock to NCAA powerhouse.

But as much as the young man from Maryland has done for the school wearing the Indiana jersey, he has the chance to do even more for the glory of old IU—much more—if he becomes a success at the next level.

The sooner Oladipo gets on solid footing in the NBA—assuming he does—the sooner Crean and his assistants can point to him as an example of what they can do for other high school recruits.

Imagine the power of Crean and his assistants as they point to Oladipo, telling recruits’ parents, “We can do for your son what we did for him.”

Being the stand-up guy he is, Oladipo is likely to thank and credit Crean and IU at every turn. In fact, he already has. At Tuesday’s press conference announcing he is entering the upcoming NBA draft, Oladipo was effusive in his praise of Crean and IU assistant coaches, crediting them for believing in him when “no one else” did and developing him beyond what anyone else thought possible.

That’s the most powerful kind of recruiting message there is.

But he didn’t stop there.

“I would tell [recruits] to come to Indiana because it’s the perfect place if you want to grow as a person, as a player, as a human being,” he said. “If you want to do those things, this is the place for you.”

That’s a powerful endorsement, especially if it’s coming from an established NBA player. Those words gain even more gravity if they’re coming from an NBA all-star.

While Crean can point to Dwyane Wade, whom he coached at Marquette, there’s really no comparison between the NBA all-star and Oladipo. At least not when you consider the way each entered college.

While Wade was recruited by only a handful of schools due to academic issues, his basketball prowess was unquestioned. Wade averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds per game during his senior year in high school.

Oladipo, on the other hand, truly was the cornerstone many builders rejected. He was lightly recruited out of high school, where he averaged 11.9 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior at DeMatha High School.

In Oladipo, Crean has a guy he can claim he helped make, a raw talent he molded and sculpted into an NBA lottery pick. Though Crean has his detractors at IU, it’s difficult to argue how much Oladipo has grown under his tutelage.

Even Oladipo’s high school coach, Mike Jones, said he was amazed at his former player’s development during his time in Bloomington.

I’m not saying Crean should take all the credit for Oladipo’s success. It should be noted that Oladipo’s tireless work ethic and self-motivation were big components in his development during three years in Bloomington. And he’s certainly not without God-given talent.

But Crean will—and should—take his fair share of the credit, to keep the Hoosier hysteria flying high.

This is no one-and-done story. No one would confuse Oladipo with one of the fantastic freshmen who motored Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA championship, then jumped to the NBA.

Oladipo’s is the story of a player with little financial earning power who was chiseled into a professional cager worth millions. While it could be debated who deserves credit for what, there is no debating the finances.

Two years ago, no one would have paid Oladipo six figures a year. I’m not sure he would have been given an NBA D-League roster spot. Twelve months ago, there isn’t an NBA general manager who would have dreamed of paying him anywhere near $1 million annually.  

Even early this year, Oladipo was projected as an early second-round pick. His rise under Crean has no doubt opened the door to NBA riches and much greater job security. Remember, only NBA first-round picks get guaranteed contracts.

Ponder for a moment the difference between the salary of a high first- and second-round draft pick. The fifth pick of last year’s second round, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, has a base salary of $850,000. That won’t go up much for the upcoming draft.

If Oladipo is the eighth overall pick of this summer’s NBA draft—and most prognosticators think he will go no later than that, he will earn a guaranteed base salary of $2.65 million in 2013 and $2.77 million in 2014, based on the NBA’s rookie pay scale. If he jumps three or four more slots, he’ll make at least $3 million for his rookie season alone.

It doesn’t take an IU economics degree to calculate the value of Oladipo’s development.

And that’s the type of windfall that could make it rain basketball recruits in Bloomington for years to come.

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  • Correct
    Good article Anthony...and when Cody Zeller goes pro in the next couple of days, and gets a like contract, more feathers in Crean's cap. (sorry,I had to say that just to get IU fan upset...they are so sure that it is better for these guys to stay another year...IU fan is, of course, not the one who has to turn down the 2-3 million dollar paycheck to stay at IU where you get paid how much? Oh sorry, I forgot...IU is the one who makes the millions at the college level...good luck to Victor and Cody at the next level...go make your money fellows, you have earned the right to do so.
    • Not Upset
      I am a huge IU fan and I know many others. No one I know is upset about Cody leaving or Victor leaving. They can't afford to risk injury when the NBA drafts based on potential. How much of an IU fan are you if you take pleasure in making other IU fans, who might just wish for another year, "upset"?
    • It shouldn't be about how much money you can make
      The reason to stay in school is or should be about getting a degree not what they can do for the school for another basketball season. Like you said yes their ability to stay healthy will improve their stock so why even go to college. Let me see, you have an injury in the NBA that cripples you and suddenly you are out period no more career and no degree with career potential either. Thats the reason to stay in school.
      • Grammar
        You didn't close your parentheses.
      • Overrated
        Even though Victor had a good year for IU...the NBA is a different story Victor was no where to be found when he had solid defensive player on him or a taller/quicker player...Victor will deie in the NBA as will the IU program with the lost of Zeller & Victor for the next few years..have no one to repalcement them
      • The Hype Goes On...
        This whole story is at once wishful thinking, but also a false narrative. No one can say whether a future NBA player will be good or average(see, Alford) and no one can say whether a given player will be a boon to recruiting. (see, Glenn Robinson) For those of you who can remember back this far, Bob Knight declined to testify as to what Landon Turner's future and/or earnings potential would have been had he not been crippled in a car crash and gone on to the NBA. He knew, as the author of this article should, that such predictions are far too speculative to amount to more than a pipe dream.
      • Integrity, Hard Work, and Recruiting
        Years ago, Jim Harbaugh made his father's college football team a success through his recruiting efforts. That program was devastated by their administration. IU was devastated similarly. Victor was no accident. Crean's success is based on the lessons learned from integrity, hard work, and good old fashion horse sense with respect to evaluating ability. All the great ones have this. Crean is class.
      • IU Degree
        Vic gets his degree on 5/4 and Cody is close to a degree. Cody can easily finish his degree while he makes millions.
      • It shouldnt be about how much money you make?
        That's right up there with some of the most ridiculous statements ive ever heard. I'm an IU alumni, and why did I go to school there... so I could earn a degree.... AND MAKE MORE MONEY. It's security for my life and now my family. We arent talking about 2 guys who are borderline 1st rounds, we are talking about lottery picks with guaranteed contracts. You have to go and it would be foolish not to. The kind of dollars we are talking on a rookie deal would allow these players to come back at the end of their deals and comfortably finish their degrees with plenty of money in the bank. Saying they should stay at this point is self-serving.
      • Not so fast
        I don't quite understand why all these guys are in such a big hurry to go pro. I think college coaches are pushing them out of the nest. Clearly Crean would rather start dealing with his next hot prospect than spend one more year with the star(s) he has now. It's really strange to watch the trends of leaving early, and who's promoting that idea in today's college basketball world.

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