Former No. 1 Pick Greg Oden Returning To College Hoops

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Greg Oden is headed back to the court.

But the top pick of the 2007 NBA Draft has no plans to revive a once promising career ruined by injuries. Rather than a jersey, Oden returns to the hardwood with a suit and grease board  – he’ll be an assistant coach at perennial Big East contender, Butler.

Oden joins the staff of recently hired head coach Thad Matta, who knows Oden as well as anyone. While the head coach at Ohio State, Matta recruited and signed Oden, a former high school National Player of the Year, to the Buckeyes. In their lone season together, Ohio State advanced all the way to the national championship game, but fell to Florida.

Just months after OSU’s title loss to the Gators, Portland selected Oden with the top pick in the NBA Draft, one spot ahead of future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant. Unfortunately, Oden was injured, needed surgery, and would miss his entire first season – something that became a theme throughout his NBA career.

Multiple injuries to both knees and many corresponding surgeries limited Oden to just 105 regular season games over three NBA seasons. Fair or not, his lack of playing time and NBA achievements earned him the dreaded “bust” label.

With his playing days behind him, coaching provides Oden, now 34, with an opportunity to achieve the type of success that eluded him after he left Ohio State. Aligning himself with Matta is certainly a step in the right direction. Matta has a career .740 winning percentage, has advanced to two Final Fours and was a five-time conference Coach of the Year.

Though Oden’s exact role with the Bulldogs is yet to be announced, his responsibilities, whatever they are, shouldn’t be entirely new. Oden has some bench experience as he served as a student manager for OSU from 2017 – 2019 while completing his degree.

Dan Dakich, host of OutKick’s Don’t @ Me and a former college basketball player and coach, considers this a home run hire for Matta.

“Greg Oden is one of the best people in college basketball,” said Dakich. “Injury derailed a (would be) Hall of Fame career, but he persevered, went back to school and has had an incredible impact. He’s mentored and helped a number of OSU staff and players, including my son.

“Thad Matta made a great hire.”


Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF


Written by Anthony Farris

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