Tall, Talented and Humble

HACKENSACK - Greg Oden is the No. 1 ranked basketball player in the Class of 2006. Just don't tell him that.

The 7-foot, 250-pound shy and humble center from Indianapolis says that title belongs to Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 power forward from Dallas who will likely wind up in The Big 12.

"I do not think I'm a superstar," Greg Oden said. "I just look at myself as a 7-foot kid who right now wants to stay a kid and develop his game to make it to the highest level he can possibly play at."

Still, humble as ever, Oden can't argue that he is not the most talked-about high school basketball player in the country. He's at Fairleigh Dickinson University this week for the ABCD Camp with 180 other players, but this camp is all about Oden, just like it was for an injured Lebron James three years ago.

"I think Greg is more prepared than any kid because he doesn't give a damn about it," said camp director Sonny Vaccaro, who added that the last big man he remembers ever receiving this amount of attention was Lew Alcindor 40 years ago (before he became known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

"A lot of kids revel in it, but if he didn't do one interview this week he wouldn't think anything of that," Vaccaro said. "He's been getting this hype for a few years now; it's not like this morning he woke up and it was here."

However, Oden's national profile has grown since last month because of something he can't do. He won't be allowed to enter the NBA draft next year because a rule under the new labor agreement that requires players from the United States to wait a year after their high school class graduates to enter the league.

To that, Oden said, so what?

Even though he was already the consensus No. 1 pick, Oden said he would have opted for college. He and high school teammate Mike Conley gave verbal commitments to Ohio State last week.

"I already committed to Ohio State , which was my plan from the beginning," Oden said. "At the start I wasn't a fan of the rule because there are some kids good enough to go, but I don't look at myself as one of them. The people I worry about are O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker [two top players in the Class of 2007]. They're good enough to go right now."

Vaccaro says Oden is being sincere.

"If the rule would have remained the same, he could have obviously changed, but he's been consistent and honest and sincere about it," Vaccaro said. "Greg never flaunted his natural ability to anybody. He still says he has to learn."

In fact, when discussing Ohio State , Oden talked about education, a topic often passé these days for players of his age and talent level.

"They have a great accounting school," Oden said. "I want to get my education to develop into a smart young man."

However, what Oden really hopes to do in at least one year of college basketball is to develop an offensive game to match his strong defense.

"He has great shot-blocking ability," said Mayo, the No. 1 ranked player in the Class of 2007. "He really can change the way things are in the paint."

Oden, who has been called a David Robinson clone, said to become a complete player like Tim Duncan he needs to improve his jump shot, hands and quickness on the offensive end. And, while he is also strong with long, sculpted arms, Oden believes he's too lean for the NBA.

"When I go, I want to be good," Oden said. "I want to make an impact."

Other Sites to check out: As the LA Lakers try and re-group after last years disapointing playoff run, you can keep up to date with thier 2006 schedule. Kobe Bryant, Jordan Famar, Kwame Bown, Andrew Bynum as well as all the LA Lakers Players.