POSTED: Mar 14, 2013 9:10 PM ET
Executives and scouts continue to deliver very positive reviews on Indiana University swingman Victor Oladipo, about his unexpected rise into the lottery as a junior and realistically the top half of the lottery, about his ability to defend multiple positions in the NBA, about his toughness, and about his work ethic. One of the first Hoosiers to arrive at practice and one of the last to leave, they report.
The real reason for rocketing up draft boards, though, is easier to define, the tangible among the opinions: Oladipo shot 47.1 percent as a sophomore and is at 61.4 this season and has jumped from 20.8 percent on three-pointers to 46.4 (though only attempting about two a game) with Indiana on the verge of opening the NCAA tournament next week as one of the favorites.
"He's really improved his jump shooting," one executive said. "When he got there (to college), he was just an athletic kid, and now he's got a jump shot. He can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He's extremely long. He's only 6-4, but he's got a very long reach. He's a guy that's developed."
The work-ethic factor. The NBA loves seeing upward trajectory as the draft approaches, wanting prospects that are getting better, not flattening out, in what are supposed to be developmental years. Holding steady is not ordinarily a compliment.
By expanding his offensive game, Oladipo has become one of the top two-way players heading toward June 27. He already projects at being able to being able to defend both backcourt spots in the NBA, even quick point guards because of his advanced athleticism, and some forwards, even at 6-4, because of strength, aggressive attitude and that long reach.
That should get him somewhere around the midpoint of the lottery, depending who comes out. That could also get him the standing as the first Indiana player taken, a notion that would have been laughed off early in the season, before Cody Zeller, once a possibility for No. 1 overall, slid down greased draft boards. Speaking of the perils of flattening out.
That part is still very TBA with almost three 1/2 months and an entire NCAA tournament before the draft -- Zeller could crack the top five as Oladipo goes somewhere in the six-to-eight range. It is also realistic that Zeller, lacking great upside but a safe picks, drops close to double digits.
One other draft note:
Some NBA teams are being told by people close to Sergey Karasev that the Russian small forward will not be in the 2013 draft. That isn't a great surprise since Karasev is only 19 and has a chance to develop into more of a prospect than the current standing of the bubble for the first round. But if the early word holds, the draft has lost one of the better candidates from Europe.
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