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April 11, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio ? Greg Oden still doesn't know if he's going to the NBA or staying at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes said thanks to an estimated 4,000 fans at Value City Arena on Wednesday night. Those looking for insight into what the 7-foot Oden or his close friend and high school teammate, Conley, are going to do must have gone home disappointed.
Oden and Conley, the freshmen who led the Buckeyes to the national championship game, only spoke during a brief interview session with a couple of former Ohio State players, Bill Hosket and Ron Stokes.
At one point, Hosket said he was going to ask the one question that everyone wanted an answer to - then asked Oden and Conley what they had for lunch.
"Chicken," Oden said. "Turkey," Conley added, the crowd roaring with laughter.
Coach Thad Matta later said he had met with Oden on Tuesday night but they only spoke in generalities. Oden and Conley have until midnight on April 29 to declare whether they intend to make themselves available for the NBA draft.
Freshman Daequan Cook is also considering a jump to the pros.
"I don't think he (Oden) has thought about it," Matta said. "This is very similar to their recruiting process where everybody says, 'They know where they're going, they know where they're going ...' and they don't. As I look back on their recruitment, they were very analytical, they were very thorough, and very in-depth to what they were looking for. It's kind of the same technique they'll use in this regard."
Oden is almost a lock to be taken No. 1, despite the presence of another stellar freshman, Texas' Kevin Durant, who announced Tuesday that he'll move on to the pros. Oden's size, defensive ability, mobility and athleticism are a rare combination for a 19-year-old 7-footer.
All three Ohio State players are in the process of filing paperwork with the NBA to determine how much interest there is. Conley, a quick and cerebral point guard, had a terrific NCAA tournament and greatly improved his stature in the eyes of scouts.
"Every kid is different," said Matta, who added that he will not try to talk any players out of leaving. "People write things when they have no idea of who the person is, his upbringing, his family. Have you ever played for a national championship? Have you ever gone through the selection Sunday show and the rush when 'Ohio State' comes up? To some kids, that's important."
One fan held a sign that said, "Greg and Mike, PLEASE STAY!!"
When Oden was introduced, the crowd chanted, "One More Year!"
That prompted walk-on, seldom-used guard Mark Titus to grab the biggest response of the night.
He took the microphone and said, "I heard the fans chanting 'one more year.' I sat down with my family and just want to say that I'll be back next year."
His teammates almost fell out of their chairs from laughing so hard.
Matta said he cannot gauge what Oden or Conley will decide.
"I don't think I'd be shocked either way," he said.
For more coverage of Ohio State, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.