Greg Oden has been working out at Ohio State and Buckeyes coach Thad Matta told reporters on Wednesday the former center could make another run at an NBA comeback.
Speaking in Portland before Ohio State's opening-round NCAA tournament game vs. VCU on Thursday, Matta said Oden has been doing "high-level training" with Ohio State coaches for the past six months.
Oden, a first-overall draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, struggled with injuries in the NBa and appeared in only 105 games over three seasons from 2008 to 2014. The 7-foot center spent only one season with Ohio State, the 2006–07 campaign in which the Buckeyes lost to Florida in the national championship.
"Quite honestly, I haven't seen Greg look this good since when he played for us back in the day at Ohio State," Matta said. '"His attitude is off the charts. He went through a lot. You look at Greg's life, how difficult things have been. I know that he is a kid that never wanted to let people down. The injuries, you know, none of us can prevent those. I know there's part of him that wishes that stuff couldn't have happened. I still swear he was going to be one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA just from the year I was with him."
Matta said Oden weights about 280 pounds, slightly above his last listed NBA playing weight of 273 pounds. In 2013–14, Oden appeared in 23 games for the Miami Heat, starting six and averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.2 minutes. For his career, Oden has averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 9.2 minutes.
Last August, Oden was arrested in his hometown of Lawrence, Ind., and originally charged with two felony battery counts and two misdemeanor battery counts following an incident with a former girlfriend. In December, he pleaded guilty to felony battery with moderate bodily injury and had the other three charges dismissed. Last month, he struck a plea agreement with prosecutors and received 909 days of probation, a $200 fine and was ordered to complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling and alcohol counseling.
"I don't know, quite honestly, if I've ever seen Greg as happy as he is right now in terms of everything is going great in his life," Matta said. "He's made a lot of personal commitments to change. Having him around literally every single day and spending time with him, there's no greater feeling. I'm excited for him."
- Mike Fiammetta