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Oladipo headed to the NBA

Junior guard Victor Oladipo announced Tuesday that he will forgo his last season of college and enter this summer’s NBA Draft, a move reported on InsideIndiana.com last week.

Oladipo, sitting next to IU coach Tom Crean at a press conference this afternoon, made official a move that has been expected for several days now, if not weeks.

"I will be growing and going on and entering the NBA Draft, and it’s an honor," Oladipo told the media Tuesday. "To be an Indiana Hoosier means so much to me, and I will always be an Indiana Hoosier."

Recruited as an athletic, defense-minded project out of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., Oladipo spent his first season at Indiana acting mostly as a reserve. He played in 32 games, starting five, and his greatest contributions often came from his injections of energy, and from his defensive presence and highlight-reel athleticism.

As a sophomore, though, Oladipo began to emerge as a key cog in Indiana’s rebuilding project.

Oladipo started 34 of IU’s 36 games, and appeared in every one. His scoring average rose nearly 3 1/2 points per game and he bumped his free-throw shooting percentage up from 61.2 percent to 75 percent.

He became a more hardened rebounder and a more technically sound defender, and his role grew in the absence of Verdell Jones, first because of a minor shoulder injury and then when Jones tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament. It was Oladipo who cued wins against Notre Dame, Purdue and Illinois as a sophomore.

The former DeMatha Stag would make his greatest leaps, though, in his final year of college, when he turned himself from a fringe first-round pick into a surefire lottery selection.

"Victor epitomizes, to me, what it means to be somebody who deserves to have those options," IU coach Tom Crean said Tuesday afternoon. "I truly support what he’s doing, and there’s no question that he’s got the physical abilities, the mental capacity, maturity and focus, the emotional well being and spiritual background."

Oladipo’s draft stock sat somewhere between the end of the first round and the beginning of the second in the 2013 NBA Draft field when this season began, but improved jump shooting — and 3-point shooting in particular — helped him open up his offensive game even more.

Better ball handling and that improved shooting stroke helped Oladipo post the seventh-best effective field goal percentage in the nation this past season, and the second-best among players under 6-foot-6. Nearly all of his defensive percentages went up, and he was better statistically rebounding the ball as a junior than at any other point in his career.

All of that combined to make Oladipo a first-team All-Big Ten performer, a first-team AP All-American, the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and The Sporting News’ Player of the Year in college basketball.

Draft analysts see him as a cinch lottery pick, with both Draft Express and ESPN projecting him to go fifth overall to the Detroit Pistons. A league source told InsideIndiana.com late in the regular season that three NBA teams expected to be in the lottery had Oladipo No. 1 on their draft board.

Oladipo will graduate in May with a degree in sport communication.

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