Former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden is making yet another comeback. Or at least attempting one.
Fifteen months after the oft-injured 7-footer declared his basketball career “over” and dubbed himself “the biggest bust in NBA history,” Oden will join the Big 3 player draft pool and attend this summer’s draft combine, the second-year 3-on-3 basketball league announced on Monday afternoon.
SPLASH ALERT The 30-year-old former number one pick out of Ohio State hopes to return to the court this Summer! Oden is ready to turn heads at the BIG3 Draft Combine. pic.twitter.com/fGQPB4PhIQ
— BIG3 (@thebig3) February 12, 2018
That Oden secured only an invitation to the draft combine and not a guaranteed roster spot either says a lot about the league’s depth of talent or the Ohio State product’s current status as a player.
After an up and down debut campaign, Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league announced its return for a second season this past November. A number of co-captains from last year’s eight five-man teams will return to headline the rosters, along with new additions Metta World Peace, Baron Davis, Drew Gooden, Carlos Boozer, Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. The remaining players will reenter the draft pool.
Oden will be joined in the draft pool by fellow newcomers Keith Bogans, Marquis Daniels, Anthony Johnson, Jason Maxiell, Jamario Moon, Morris Peterson, Josh Powell, Samaki Walker, Sean Williams and Terrence Williams, among others. But the former No. 1 pick’s presence in that group is a surprise.
Oden played just 82 games from 2008-13 while under contract with the Portland Trail Blazers due to a series of knee injuries. A brief comeback with the Miami Heat during the 2013-14 season was derailed by health and alcohol problems after playing in only 219 minutes during the regular season and playoffs. And an alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend sent Oden’s career further down the spiral.
After pleading guilty to battery with moderate bodily injury, Oden worked out with the Buckeyes and met with a number of teams in the summer of 2015 but couldn’t land an NBA job. He played a 25-game stretch for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Jiangsu Dragons, averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds, and then returned Stateside to serve as a student manager at Ohio State. He held out hope for an NBA comeback as recently as April 2016, but conceded to the Indianapolis Star that November, “It’s over.”
The allure of professional basketball, though, is still enough to call Oden back to the court almost two years after he last played in earnest, even if for a draft combine. Oden turned 30 years old on Jan. 22.
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