The Cutting Room Floor: Embracing Oladipo

As much as was already said about Victor Oladipo in today’s feature — which is linked in Hoosier Morning and can also be found here — there is still much more to say about the young man that didn’t fit in the narrative, so I’m using the blog to empty my notebook, so to speak, with some anecdotes, quotes and facts about the Indiana junior guard that didn’t quite make it in the paper. They follow.

Oladipo the Singer

Victor Oladipo’s origins as a performer go back to his days in his church choir. He and his family are devout Catholics, and he had solos in choir shows and also sang in talent shows. But he rarely sang outside of church and his high school coach at DeMatha Catholic, Mike Jones, didn’t know he could sing at all until the team’s banquet his senior year after the Senior Night game.

“I looked at the program (for the banquet) after we played, and it said  “Song selection, Victor Oladipo,” Jones said. “I was  just like “What?’ He’s got a twin sister Victoria, so I thought maybe someone made a mistake forgot to put the i-a on it. It came time for that part, and he stands up and says, “I’m going to sing a song, these are my brothers, I love them.’ He sang It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is getting ready to be awful.’ As long as I’ve known him and as much time as I’ve spent with him, I never once heard him sing a note, and I thought ‘If he could sing, he would’ve sung by now, this is getting ready to be terrible.’ But I tell you what, he started singing and I got chills. It brought a tear to my eyes. It was that good. I like to think I have a great relationship with all my players. But this was something I had no clue about. I was very impressed. That taught me a lesson. Don’t doubt your guys.”

Oladipo, of course, has taken his singing to the limelight much more since he’s been in college. It started when he performed Usher’s “U Got it Bad,” at the Spirit of Indiana Showcase in April of 2011. That October he sang the same song at Hoosier Hysteria with his teammates serving as back-up dancers. He sang again at this year’s Hoosier Hysteria, breaking out Mario’s “Just A Friend.”

He breaks out into random renditions of songs virtually everywhere he is. He’s been known to walk into press conferences singing and to begin singing in the middle of press conferences. And the locker room. He’s always singing in the locker room.

“Definitely when I’m walking to class, I just sing to myself,” Oladipo said. “When I’m in the locker room, those boys definitely hear me singing” — he laughs — “They can’t get enough of it, you know what I’m sayin?”

Oladipo said he hasn’t considered a future in music, but it’s something he wouldn’t mind looking into when his basketball career ends.

“Maybe later in my life I’d do something like that go in the studio,” Oladipo said. “That would be cool. Right now it’s just all about basketball, just trying to make it at a high level.”

Oladipo The Player

Today’s story focused some on basketball, but not in a huge amount of depth. I talked to Oladipo at length about how he believes he’s progressed and evolved. I’m just pasting his answers wholesale below, with truncated versions of my questions.

How have you evolved as a player since you’ve been at Indiana?

I’ve come a long way. When I first got here, I was just trying to find my way and trying to get better at certain things.  I couldn’t really dribble as well. I was really turnover prone. I wasn’t really as confident in my ball-handling skills in my guard skills. I’ve just grown over the past years working out in the summer, working out with coach Crean, working in practice with my guard skills.  My guard skills have gotten a lot better since then. Hopefully just keep improving my guard skills and that jump shot as well. Keep doing that keep and keep doing it with confidence and I’ll be successful. And I’ll keep growing as a player and I’ll make a big step this year.

When you came to Indiana did you have a vision of what kind of player you wanted to be?

It was hard to think about that at the time. I was just trying to come in and get my feet wet as a freshman and trying to make an impact and be one of the best college basketball players in the country. I’m just trying to do that now, I’m trying to win at a high level and for my team to be successful, and I’m just going to cointinue to keep working hard so we have the opportunity to be successful in the NCAA.

How do you think you’ve become a better defender?

I’m smarter. I’m a smarter defender. Last year I still sometime got dumb fouls. This time I can be aggressive but be aggressive without fouling. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at that over the years. I was a pretty good defender coming in. When I first got here, I had a problem gambling and reaching and trying to make the hero plays instead of just being solid. I think I’m doing a better job of that this year. I’m just continuing to keep being solid and being active at the whole time.

How do you make the leap from being a good but undisciplined high-school defender to a true lock-down college defender?

Hard work and telling yourself that. If you tell yourself you’re a good defender, you’re gonna be a good defender. If you tell yourself you’re gonna lock somebody up, then you’re gonna lock somebody up. Your body follows your mind. I think it all starts with your mindset. If you have a mindset that you’re gonna be a good defender and my man’s not gonna score, my man’s not gonna beat me outside the elbows, then your man won’t do that. I think it all starts with your mindset. Then it comes to the physical attributes and goes on from there. I think it’s definitely your mindset. Just thinking that you’re a good defender, and it will enhance your defensive skills.

A recent story in Grantland called you “a pain in the ass” as a defender. Is that something you take pride in being called?

That’s the beauty of being a good defender when someone says that. It means you’re working hard and it means you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. I’m trying to be a pain in the ass on both ends of the floor. I think I’m doing a better job of that this year, just being active on offense, being active on defense, and just trying to stay consistent on both ends. Just trying to stay consistent on both ends, I’m trying to do that the whole year, just trying to stay focused.

Do you feel like your jumper is the last frontier for you? Is that the last big step you need to take to be a complete player?

Yeah, that has a little bit to do with it. I still need to become better at every aspect of my game. Definitely shooting.. I think I’m  good shooter. I think I have good form and things like that . At this point, I just have to keep telling myself I’m gonna make the shot instead of thinking about it so much. I think sometimes in a game sometimes I’m wide open because people essentially leave me open.  I’m like, I gotta make this, because people don’t think I can shoot. It’s going through my mind, instead of just shooting the ball and being a basketball player. I’ve grown to become a basketball player, not just an athletic guy who can defend. I just need to keep growing in every aspect of my game. I just stay focused on getting better.

You talked about being a basketball player and not just an athletic guy? Did you hear that knock on you? Did you think that’s what people thought of you, and was it important to you to be considered a basketball player, not just somebody who could run, jump and play defense?

Sometimes people still think of me as that now. As just a guy who’s athletic. A guy who can run and jump and defend occasionally, instead of being, ‘I’m a basketball player, you know? I got guard skills. I can make decisions with the ball and stuff like that. I’ve been working, and I’m not going to stop working on it because I always have room for improvement. At the same time, I’m trying to let everybody know that I’m a basketball player.  I’m trying to show that every night I go out on the floor. At the same time, I’m the athletic guy who can still defend, but at the same time, be a basketball player.

Interesting Stats on Oladipo I Didn’t Use

In the story, I only discussed the very basic stats. Some other interesting ones that didn’t make it.

Most know this one, but he’s shooting 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He’s only taken 26 and made 13, but that’s three more makes than he had all of last year.

He’s second on the team with 11 blocks.

He’s third in the nation in effective field goal percentage at 71.9. Effective field goal percentage which gives 3-pointers 50 percent more credit in the evaluation. It’s basically 2 point field goals + (3-point field goals x 1.5) / total field goal attempts.

He’s also third in the nation in true shooting percentage at 72.1. Ken Pomeroy explains true shooting percentage like so  — “It’s like eFG%, but throws in trips to the line and converts it to a shooting percentage that approximates what 2-point percentage a player would need to have to score the points he produces on all of his shooting attempts.”

He’s also 30th in the nation in steal percentage, averaging 4.8 steals per 100 possessions.

Unused Quotes

Tom Crean

“I think it became to me the more you get to know him, the personality, the charisma, things like that kind of come out pretty quick when you’re just getting to know him. Then when you really see the depth of him and you see what he’s capable of and you’re around him on a day-to-day basis. You just, I think it’s probably from personal experience as much as anything. I mean, I’m inspired by him. I get energy from him. I think if I do, then I  think a lot of other people can to. He’s got a uniqueness about him because he’s not entitled. He’s certainly been raised by his family and his coaches in a way that he’s never been enabled. You’re talking about a guy that had had to travel an hour, hour an a half ever day to get a school , leaving early in the morning to get to a school that was a big-time academic and basketball school that wasn’t near his house. He’s paid those prices, and I think there’s so many different things that he can bring to the table. He’s got an infectious personality, but there’s a tremendous honesty about him. He enjoys being around people. He enjoys being a regular person. I think at the same time, he needs to understand that he’s got a heck of a platform in helping people that I wouldn’t say under privileged, but people that may might not have the level of self-esteem that or the level of self-confidnece that he has, and I think he can touch a lot of people that way, and I think he does, and I think he’ll continue to. He’s going to be successful when he leaves here in far more than just being a basketball player at the NBA level. There will be many other things, because I think people will continue to see it on a national level like they are now.

It’s the consistency day-to-day. There’s probably a lot of different things you could point to, but when somebody’s really the same person every day with their work ethic, with their desire to be in the gym. Some people have a routine. He truly has a commitment. Routine is good, you’ve gotta have one. Routine can be a really consistent thing. But when you have a commitment level, well then your passion, your energy, your ability to connect. All of those things really come to light. He is an extremely helpful teammate. And I think his teammates not only feed off the obvious, but they feed off that work ethic. They see his drive and it does something to him. I think there’s countless examples of him spending time or signing autographs or uplifting somebody. People want to meet him. People want to be around him. He’s really really good with tht. I’ll give you one of the best that I’ve seen. One day he came into church at about 10;40 church started at 1030. As it was ending. I said where are you going. He had walked from his apartment ot church, which is just about two miles. That’s the kind of commitment this man has to what’s important to him. Whether it’s school basketball church family. Whatever it is. His commitment level is incredibly high.”

Tim Buckley

“He started more games here then he did a DeMatha High School. Vic showed up here with a chip on his shoulder that was bigger than he is. He wanted to prove something and show that he belonged, but I also think that’s his personality. I think he’s a worker he’s got an edge to him, but he’s also got an infectious personality. I think people are attracted to him. I think people enjoy being around him. He’s another one of those guys that when Jordan started coming over extra, I think Vic had that in his DNA, I thin Will had that in their DNA. I think that will Had that in their DNA, I’ sure they knew where they were ranked and what people thought when we first signed them. Now I think there are a lot of people not only in our league but throughout the country that wish they had players like that that were that athletic. And that had gotten better with their skill level.  A lot of the credit goes to them, and it also goes to the staff and the program for developing his skills. I think you’re gonna see Vic shoot the ball better, shoot it with more confidence, because he does when there’s nobody around. So now he’s just gotta let it rip during the games, and if he misses one, to get to that next shot. Sometimes to be a great shooter, you can’t have a conscience. You can’t worry about what happened before that. I think he’s a pretty conscientious guy. So he’s just gotta get to that next play, that next shot. You see how well he’s improved in the pick and roll and in handling the ball and making kicks, that type of thing. That’s really expanded his game. He’s not done expanding it, so I’m pretty excited to see how that will unfold here the rest of this year and the rest of his career at Indiana.

Keith Stevens, Team Takeover

“He’s one of the best kids to ever come through the program as a player, but he’s definitely one of the best to ever come through as a person.”



  1. I think we’re very lucky to have a person like Vic in the program. He really seems like a remarkable young man.

  2. I just watched The Journey for the 3rd time… I know I’ve said it before, but… I love Victor Oladipo.

    He’s on the verge of overtaking KS as my favorite Hoosier ever.

  3. Geoff, Kelvin Sampson was your favorite Hoosier ever?

    That’s pretty shallow-minded of you! Mine is D.J. White, and then Rod Wilmont. Dipo is climbing the list rapidly though.

    My least favorite is Eric Gordon. We destroyed the whole program for 4 years just to get his very limited services, and couldn’t even get a single tournament win out of him.

  4. Vic is very special to this program. It shows me Crean has a keen eye for talent. Vic wasn’t in demand. With the right coaching and tools, I can see Vic having a successful NBA career. Especially these days when defense is a thing of the past in that league. He will be around for awhile.

    I never much cared for Gordon either. I am pleased he is still connected to the program, but looking back, Illinois can have him. At least Weber would have so meshing to brag about. Lol.

    Sampson never made sense to me. Indiana is about doing things the right way. Sampson had a record of not doing things the right way. I believe we were in a funk, since the Davis experiment failed, and became desperate. Just my opinion. Btw, is the rumor true at one point Tubby Smith was interested in coaching us?

  5. Dustin, you are so very good in picking up the minutia that makes for sports characters. Sometimes, I wonder about using your column to basically reproduce what the beat guy is doing.

    Your doing a lot more stories with the optic of the Oladipo story, an optic that puts the reader in the hall next to the locker room, or in the training room where these guys are free to be who they are, is a very unique view that we rarely get and wish we had more of.

    I not only enjoyed the story,… I enjoyed Oladipo.

  6. You should pursue the Cutting Room idea..a column based on the notes that go beyond the Who, When, What… The notes you normally end up throwing away because they are your perceptions would be so much more of a treat.

  7. Great story and insight into Vic. Vic has been IU’s player of the year, the Big 10’s player of the year, and he should be in the running for national player of the year. He is clearly our MVP this season thus far. I venture to say he is going to be a better pro than anyone on this team and he’s likely to play for a long, long time. He can defend anybody’s best player and he’s lightning quick. His outside jump shot & 3’s are also vastly improved year to year.

    To boot, the kid is a class act. I sure hope he stays for another year, although since he’s graduating early in 3 years, he may elect to hit the NBA. Hope not, but he’s had a great year so far and he’d fit virtually any NBA roster with his defense, quickness and ability.

  8. Fred two thumbs up on your d.j.white pick as favorite hoosier, couldn’t agree more. Dipo is a close second.

  9. I thought Geoff was talking about Keith Smart as his favorite Hoosier. Vic is special. I remember walking down Kirkwood just outside Nicks in the summer before Vic’s freshman year. He was walking and dribbling a basketball and no one really even noticed it was him. He was walking with Mo at the time. I stopped for a second and said to my family, “hey, it’s Victor and Maurice. Go Hoosiers!” Most the people just gave a quick glance and kept on going. My guess is today if someone pointed out Vic walking down Kirkwood, he would attract a lot more attention than what he did his freshman year. Vic is the epitome of what drive, determination and hard work will do for someone. He’s a special kid.

  10. Come to think of it, Geoff could be talking about Kreigh Smith. I kinda liked Kreigh in his short shorts.

Comments are closed.