The Ohio State freshman is the biggest thing to hit college basketball in decades. Only the fourth two-time national high school player of the year, the 7-footer has dazzling, game-changing skills at both ends of the court. He's already so good, USA Basketball invited him to hang with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and other NBA stars at its training camp this summer.
But the 18-year-old might not be as eager to join the NBA as everyone thinks, especially with a wrist injury forcing him to miss the first half of the season.
"He wants to experience the college environment, and he still hasn't got to experience that yet," said Mike Conley Jr., one of No. 7 Ohio State's five heralded newcomers and a friend and teammate of Oden's since grade school.
"He still thinks he needs to get better," Conley added.
Besides, Oden likes school. An honors student at Lawrence North, he's majoring in business at Ohio State and wants to be an accountant.
He also relishes being "normal," refusing to get caught up in the hype surrounding him. His wardrobe is more prep than pro -- he showed up at an Indiana Pacers game last year in a polo shirt and jeans, and wore khakis and a brown sweater to Ohio State's first exhibition. And he rarely talks about being a potential No. 1 draft pick, even with his closest friends.
Though Oden has told friends he'd like to stay in school, he also has said he thinks he could play in the NBA after his time at the U.S. team training camp.
"I think he feels a lot more confident about it today than he did eight months ago," Conley Sr. said. "But with his injury and his hand, and coming back, you just never know. You just never know.".