He was the #1 recruit out of high school and went to the National Championship as a freshman at Ohio State.
But sadly, his career would never reach higher peaks than that.
After going #1 overall to the Portland Trail Blazers, the big man missed 4 of the 7 seasons he was in the NBA.
And of the 3 seasons he did play, he only played in 105 total games.
Oden never fulfilled the potential he displayed throughout high school and college.
High School and College Phenom
The ultra-talented center from Lawrence North High School out of Indianapolis was a national phenom.
Oden helped lead them to 3 consecutive state championships along with Mike Conley.
He was named Indiana Mr Basketball and was the Gatorate National player of the year.
Just a few of the awards Oden won:
- Naismith Prep Player of the Year
- Indiana Mr. Basketball
- USA Today Player of the Year (but twice)
- Gatorade Player of the Year (twice)
Oden had his pick and could have went to any college in the nation, but chose Ohio State along with Mike Conley in 2005.
He started 2006 off with having wrist surgery, but made an immediate impact in his first game.
Oden had a double-double coming off the bench, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Valparaiso.
The Buckeyes tore through the NCAA tournament, but ultimately lost to Billy Donovan‘s Florida Gators in the title game.
Oden had 25 points along with 12 rebounds in the game.
Oden was an All-American and winner of the Pete Newell Big Man Award and on his way to the NBA draft.
Injury Prone Right Away In The NBA
Injuries were the main reason Oden’s career was derailed so early.
3 months after being drafted, Oden underwent the first operation of his NBA career – microfracture surgery on his right knee.
He would go on to miss the entire 2007-2008 season.
His rookie year in 2008-2009 saw him play 61 games – more than half of his career total games played.
Oden averaged 8.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.1 BPG across 21.5 MPG.
The following 2009-2010 season Oden become a full-time starter while averaging 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 2.3 BPG.
However, a fractioned left patella cut his season short after just 21 games.
Due to setbacks and further knee damage found during surgery, Oden would miss the next 3 seasons before being waived by the Trail Blazers.
The former top pick would play a total of only 82 games across 6 seasons with Portland.
He averaged a meager 9.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.2 BPG all told.
After being waived by Portland, Oden would play 1 more season in the NBA.
He signed a 1-year deal with the Miami Heat in the 2013 offseason and would suit up for 23 games for the title-hopefuls.
Greg would appear in 3 playoff games for a total of 7:29 – all coming in garbage time of blow-outs.
Oden would attempt a comeback in 2015, even getting workouts with the Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks.
Those workouts never led to any contracts, and Oden went overseas.
He would sign a 1-year contract with the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association and appear in 25 games.
The former-Trail Blazer averaged 13.0 PPG, 12.6 RPG, and 2.0 BPG for the Dragons.
If not for injuries, Oden may have had a successful NBA career.
He is labeled a bust but his per-36 minute averages are 14.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG, and 2.3 BPG on 57.4% shooting.
While he never got another shot in the NBA, he wasn’t as bad of a player as his draft-bust status would imply.
His former teammate Mike Conley believes Oden would have gone down as one of the best, if not for injuries.
“It definitely wasn’t planned this way,” Conley told The Vertical. “Everyone will tell you, he is the guy who should be on the All-NBA teams, the All-Star appearances. I think he would have gone down as one of the best bigs of all time if he stayed healthy. It’s weird how things shaped out.”
Conley also believes having a child affected his decisions.
“He understood his body and he understands his situation,” Conley said. “I think having a child opened his eyes. It made him understand that his main thing was his family. I don’t think he wants to risk not being able to be with his children, get down on his knees to play with them, walk around and run with them. It was the right time for all this to happen. I told him, ‘Do what you believe is best.’ I’m with him regardless.”
Where is Oden Now?
After his playing career was over, Oden returned to Ohio State to complete his degree.
Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden went back to Ohio State to get his degree. Today they honored him at senior day 🙌
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 10, 2019
He became a student manager for the basketball team and helped with player development.
Oden graduated with his degree in 2019 and became an athlete advisor for Edyoucore Sports & Entertainment.
🎓 The big man is officially a member of the greatest alumni base in the world.
Greg Oden has graduated from THE Ohio State University with a degree in sport industry. Congrats G.O.❗️ pic.twitter.com/PeZS8lDFhz
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) May 5, 2019
The Baltimore-based sports company provides financial advice and services to younger athletes.
Oden’s job is assisting the company in tailoring presentations to assist young individuals to navigate the pitfalls of being young and wealthy.
Providing financial advice is not what Oden hopes to do for the rest of his career, though.
He wants to get into coaching and is hoping to work his way into the profession.
Being labeled a “draft bust” hasn’t always been easy to handle for Oden.
He has had his fair share of emotional struggle with it.
“A lot of watching old YouTube clips and crying by myself”, Oden commented, “It was definitely a mental switch I had to make”.
While his whole life has been filled with up and downs, Oden feels he has now reached the place where he needs to be.
“I picked up the phone and called Coach [Thad] Matta”, Oden recalled.
Matta encouraged him to take up a role in basketball by coming back to his old collegiate team as a team manager, Oden reflected on it as “the greatest thing I did”.NEXT: Concerning Report Emerges About Deandre Ayton's Tenure In Portland