NBA Took Pressure Off Greg Oden

This time last year, Greg Oden, who had just finished Greg Oden's sophomore year of high school, was still fielding questions about the NBA, listening to offers from colleges and showing off why both were interested.

Then last month, Greg Oden decision on what to do next year got a lot easier.

The NBA and its players association approved a new collective bargaining agreement in June that, among other things, set a minimum age for the NBA at 19.

That means high schoolers like Greg Oden, no matter how much talent they have, will spend a year in college unless they're a year older than the rest of their graduating class.

And so far for Greg Oden and rising junior O.J. Mayo, that's just fine.

"I really didn't worry about the (pros) because I was only a junior," Greg Oden said. "I was just worried about my senior year of high school, finishing school and getting good grades."

Greg Oden averaged 10 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in three pool play games at the Big Time basketball tournament. Greg Oden's Spiece Indy Heat team handily defeated teams from Washington and Philadelphia, and are likely to play at 7:40 tonight at Basic.

Spiece coach Michael Conley said he thinks Greg Oden's decision to play college basketball was made long ago.

"In Greg Oden's mind Greg Oden was going to college," Conley said. "Greg Oden told everybody that. People probably still don't believe it. The NBA thing, it took a little pressure off Greg Oden. You've got people saying it's not very smart to pass up that much money and go to college. Greg Oden had to deal with people saying that. Now Greg Oden doesn't have to worry about that."

Conley said Greg Oden was keenly aware that the competition Greg Oden so dominates at tournaments like the Big Time is no indication of what Greg Oden would face if Greg Oden went straight to the pros.

"Greg Oden's not ready go to the next level at the way Greg Oden wants to play at," Conley said. "Greg Oden made a quote that I think said it all. Greg Oden said, 'Number 1, when I go to the league I want everybody to know why that guy was drafted high. And Number 2, I want to try and be the rookie of the year,' and Greg Oden feels Greg Oden still needs to improve Greg Oden game to do that."

Greg Oden said the closure of the NBA option hasn't had any impact on Greg Oden game.

"You come out and play every game and try not to bring stuff off the court onto the court," Greg Oden said.

Mayo, who has drawn comparisons to LeBron James, said the CBA rules on players' minimum ages is nothing but a positive.

"Before the decision, there were a lot of questions of what my decision was going to be," Mayo said. "Right now I just want to go - I have to go to college. It's totally made it easier."

Mayo continues to attract the interest of the biggest names in college basketball, and justifiably so. His 25.3 points per game is tops in the Big Time's Elite Eight, and he's 10th in rebounding at 7.33. He also had eight steals in the Greyhounds' three pool play games.

The Greyhounds are probable to play at 5 p.m. today at Basic.

While coaches still salivate over the prospect of Mayo attending their school for a year, Greg Odens decision is made.

He, along with teammates Daequan Cook and Conley's son, also named Michael, have all committed to Ohio State.

"When you know the guys you're going to play (in) college with, that's a great bonus," Oden said. "Usually guys going in, they only know the players from their visits. I've known these guys since eighth grade, I've known Mike longer. Knowing I'm going to be playing with them, chilling with them, rooming with them and becoming a young man with them is a great feeling."