Thad Matta said Greg Oden will still be an all-time great

NBA Basketball

While his Buckeyes prepare for their NCAA Tournament matchup against VCU on Thursday, Ohio State coach Thad Matta answered questions about one of his high-profile former players.

Matta's Buckeyes open the tournament in Portland, where the Trail Blazers drafted former Ohio State center Greg Oden with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 before a flurry of leg injuries derailed the big man’s career. But Matta told reporters Oden is on track for an NBA comeback.

"I see Greg every day," Matta said. “He's back in Columbus. Comes in, works out. 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. 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.”

Oden played just 82 games over a five-season run in Portland. His last game came in 2009 before he missed the next three-plus seasons. Most recently, Oden appeared in 23 games with the Heat last season.

“I tell you what Greg is doing right now, he's probably been six months of high-level conditioning, training in the weight room, working out on the court,” Matta said. "Our coaches work him out. I think he's right now trying to gauge how the body feels. There is a possibility he may make another run at it.”

Doubts about his health will follow Oden if he tries to get back to the NBA, but according to Matta, Oden is doing better than ever without an NBA paycheck.

"His attitude is off the charts,” Mata said. "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.”

In his 105 career games, Oden averaged eight points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Those numbers don't scream "Hall of Fame," but Matta still has high expectations for the big man who led Ohio State to the 2007 National Championship Game.

"I mean, 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. “Like I said, 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.”  

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