With the correct coaching in basketball, anyone can become a better shooter, passer, or defender. But the pure natural athleticism Indiana guard Victor Oladipo possesses is a special attribute that coaches cannot teach and players cannot acquire — no matter how many hours spent in the gym.
The majority of basketball rosters are filled with athletic freaks of nature, but very few can and have combined those athletic skills into each area of their game like Oladipo.
The unranked, three-star recruit from Upper Marlboro, Md., has transformed from a scrawny athlete to a muscular, NBA ready (and most likely NBA bound) guard in his three seasons at Indiana.
Each of the 6-foot-4 junior’s seasons at IU have been a steady improvement on the previous one. He’s averaging career-bests of 13.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 59.4 shooting from the field. Most dramatically, the elite defender, improved offensively as Oladipo’s 3-point shooting leapt from 20.8 percent as a sophomore to 43.3 percent this season.
He is third in the country at 68.4 percent in true shooting percentage, which measures shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
The continued improvement of Oladipo’s game earned him first-team All-American honors, Sporting News Player of the Year, and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Award and deserves and should win National Player of the Year.
ESPN’s Dick Vitale, CBS’ Clark Kellogg, and others have compared Oladipo to Michael Jordan at different points of the season. Anytime a player is compared to arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, scrutiny immediately follows. But the comparison is not that Oladipo will go down as one of the greatest basketball players ever but more of that their styles of play are similar.