Published May 17, 2013
CHICAGO – Victor Oladipo mentions the late nights at the gym, the wear and tear on his key card, and he's quick to point out he's just a tad unusual, too.
The Indiana product is also just a few weeks away from realizing a dream.
The NBA draft is next month and Olapido figures to be one of the top picks after he helped lead the Hoosiers back to national prominence.
"It's surreal sometimes," he said.
It's also the product of all those hours at the gym honing his shot and developing into something more than a defensive stopper.
He spent so much time there he wore out his key card. Now, he's in for a big payoff.
"I'll be honest with you, I'm a weird dude," he said Friday at the NBA draft combine. "At Indiana, we'd just finish watching a playoff game ... a late game, West Coast."
The game might end around midnight, but that didn't stop Oladipo from going to the gym afterward. He swiped his key card so much it stopped working.
Oladipo did not stop working, though.
With his infectious demeanor and relentless drive, he helped the Hoosiers go from winning 12 games as a freshman in 2010-11 to making back-to-back appearances in the regional semifinals. Indiana came into the past season ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1979 and spent more time at the top of the poll than any other team, with Oladipo and likely lottery pick Cody Zeller leading the way.
Oladipo was a bit overlooked when he arrived at Indiana from high school power DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md. But he dazzled with his athleticism and defense and improved in each of his three seasons in Bloomington.
He was a first-team, All-American this past season after finishing second on the team in scoring (13.6), tying for second on the team in rebounds (6.3) and earning Big Ten defensive player of the honors.
He left jaws dropping with a spectacular game-sealing 360-degree dunk against Illinois in the Big Ten tournament, and he saw his shooting percentage rocket from 47.1 percent as a sophomore to 59.9 percent this past season. He made a huge leap from long distance, hitting 44.1 percent of his 3-pointers after converting just 20.8 percent the previous year.
Now, he's poised to make the biggest jump of all — to the NBA.
"I'm looking forward to the journey," he said. "It's a new chapter in my life. ... I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. At the same time, you've got to grind. It's a business. You've got to be serious about it."