Can we accept the fact that Victor Oladipo, like the legend Hakeem Olajuwon, is never going to represent Nigeria at international basketball events? That’s another superstar basketball player that would have added both depth and luster to Nigerian basketball, but he’s gone.
Some months ago, precisely in February, there was a small ray of hope that Oladipo may suit up for the Nigerian D’Tigers in the near future. But that dream vanished when USA Basketball invited the Orlando Magic shooting guard to its mini training camp mid August, 2015.
Though there are some who think Oladipo’s decision to play for the USA may not amount to much considering that his position is heavily stacked, but make no mistake about it; Oladipo’s performance at the USA Basketball trials inspired hope as to what he can achieve wearing the navy blue and star-spangled uniform instead of a green-white-green.
While it is true that the shooting guard position has more players with more mileage and more rounded skills than Oladipo, his performance at the USA Basketball mini training camp was impressive. If you’re in doubt as to what impact the 6’4 high-flying guard can do for the United States and what Nigeria lost when its recruitment plans failed, check out the video below.
By the way, Oladipo had 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in that game. Coach K and Floyd Mayweather seemed to approve of his showing.
The sad truth is that the Nigerian Basketball Federation slept on Oladipo big time. It wasn’t until Kehinde Babatunde Victor Oladipo made it into the NBA upon being drafted second by the Orlando Magic in 2013 that the NBBF began making frantic efforts at recruiting him to play for Nigeria’s national team.
As sad as it may sound, Oladipo initially expressed overt interest at playing for the Nigerian team a few years ago while he was still an undergrad at the University of Indiana, according to an inside source. Oladipo met with an American-based Nigerian professor at the airport in the US where he said he definitely would love to play for Nigeria but that his (Oladipo’s) agent would give them the terms. Upon contacting Oladipo’s agent, it was discovered that the agent requested an insurance valued at $20,000 be set up for Oladipo so he could join D’Tigers for the 2012 Olympics. The source further revealed that the NBBF felt that sum was too much an insurance cover on the lad who was not even in the NBA at the time.
The reality here is that the NBBF gambled on Oladipo and lost. The United States Basketball program appears to be the winner here even though it has more shooting guards than it needs with the likes of James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Bradley Beal, and DeMar DeRozan filling up that spot.
Image credits: NBAE/GettyImages; Orlando Sentinel; USABasketball