Why Victor should win Wooden

Making the case for Indiana's Oladipo as the nation's best player

Originally Published: February 21, 2013
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider
Victor Oladipo AP Photo/Pat LovellVictor Oladipo has played a huge part in Indiana's success this season.

The proven method for winning the Wooden Award is to already be a big star before the start of that particular season.

Before he played one game at Kentucky, Anthony Davis was already being billed as the nation's top high school player and the jewel of the latest amazing John Calipari recruiting class. Before he sparked Jimmer Mania in 2010-11, Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette had already been named first-team All-Mountain West -- twice. And before he won renown as a "point forward," Ohio State's Evan Turner had already been named first-team All-Big Ten as a plain old wing.

Which brings me to Victor Oladipo. He didn't win many individual accolades last season as a sophomore at Indiana. He wasn't All-Big Ten, or even honorable mention. He did make the league's 2012 All-Defensive Team, but Ohio State's Aaron Craft won Defensive POY honors in a move that, at the time, was regarded as a no-brainer. After the close of the season, Oladipo was named Indiana's best defender and deflections leader. And that was pretty much it in terms of individual recognition. There was plenty of room left in Oladipo's trophy case.

I've called upon all this ancient history to make a simple point. What we've all seen Victor Oladipo do this season has been remarkable. His trajectory has not followed the standard path marked out by previous Wooden Award winners, and there was no way we could have seen this coming. (Example: Oladipo entering this season was a career 24 percent shooter from beyond the arc.) Be that as it may, Oladipo's outstanding performance on both offense and defense as a junior marks him as the clear and best choice for the Wooden Award in 2013.