One of the biggest fears in many people’s lives is not living up to the expectations of others. In sports, when an athlete doesn’t live up to the hype, we often call that person a “bust.” When you google “the biggest busts in sports history,” Greg Oden’s name is on just about every list. Oden was the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, but a series of injuries ended his NBA career early. It’s been a while since Greg Oden has been in the spotlight, so let’s take a look and see where he is today.
Greg Oden high school stats, accomplishments and awards
Prior to college, Oden played for Lawrence North High School in Indiana. The seven-foot, 270 pound center was not only physically dominant but extremely skilled as well. As a junior he was named Parade’s Co-High School Player of the Year and was the sole winner of the award as a senior. In back-to-back years Oden was named Gatorade’s National Player of the Year. As a senior he was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and was invited to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. Oden led his high school to three consecutive state titles and ended his high school career with 1,873 points, 1,058 rebounds, 341 blocked shots and a 103-7 record.
According to just about every recruiting database, Oden was the No. 1 recruit in the country. He and high school teammate Mike Conley Jr. went on to play for Thad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Prior to entering college, Oden underwent surgery on his wrist, which would sideline him for the beginning of his Ohio State career.
Greg Oden’s college stats and highlights from time at Ohio State
Oden was one of the biggest names in college basketball before he stepped foot on the floor at Ohio State. A wrist injury suffered in high school kept him on the sidelines until December of his freshman season, but Ohio State got off to a hot start nonetheless. Although the freshman big man was the Buckeyes star player, he was surrounded by plenty of talent. Ohio State brought back a handful of players from the previous year’s team that landed a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to Oden, Ohio State brought in two more top 20 recruits, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook.
Oden’s first collegiate game came against Valparaiso. He came off the bench and scored 15 points, grabbed ten rebounds and blocked five shots in 23 minutes. Ohio State went on to win the game 78-58. Once Oden started to get in the groove of things, it was smooth sailing for the Buckeyes.
With Oden in the lineup, the Buckeyes only lost two regular season games. The first coming to Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and the reigning champion Florida Gators and the second coming by the way of Alando Tucker and the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers. Ohio State finished the regular season with a 27-3 record and went on to win the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed and opened up with a 21 point lead over Central Connecticut State. Oden and the Bucks went on to beat Xavier, Tennessee and Memphis to reach the Final Four. Ohio State beat Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and the Georgetown Hoyas in the semifinal game to then face the Florida Gators in the National Championship.
Unfortunately for Oden and the Buckeyes, Ohio State once again lost to the Joakim Noah led Gators. In the title game Oden scored 25 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Oden’s final stats as a Buckeye were 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game.
Greg Oden’s time with the Portland Trailblazers halted by injuries
With the first overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden. Most scouts thought Oden was a sure thing, but the pick proved to be one of the worst in NBA history. Almost any other year, picking Oden would have just been a bad miss, but the fact that the next pick in the draft was Kevin Durant makes the Blazer’s selection that much worse.
Before the start of his rookie year, Oden underwent surgery on his right knee which led to him miss the entire season. At the time, the Blazers weren’t too worried. When then Portland coach Nate McMillan found out about the injury he said “To know that Greg wouldn’t be with us, it was disappointing, I was really looking forward to working with him, and developing this team. You know we will still get that opportunity, but it will just come a year from now.”
Oden made his NBA debut a year later in a game against the Lakers. Unfortunately, Oden was held scoreless after going down with an injury 13 minutes into the game. Oden returned two weeks later, but was once again injured later on in the season.
Things were looking good for Oden at the start of the 2009 season. He recorded a career high 24 points and career high 20 rebounds in separate games in an eight day span. A few weeks later, Oden went down with an injury that would keep him out the remainder of the season. During the 2010 offseason, Oden underwent yet another surgery which would sideline him for the entire 2010-2011 season. After another setback Oden ended up missing both the entire 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. At this point, even the most-optimistic fans stopped believing that Oden would reach his potential.
Attempt at a comeback with the Miami Heat
After missing three consecutive seasons, in a surprise move the Miami Heat signed Oden to a one-year deal. While many were unsure of the big man’s future, Heat president Pat Riley said “After many months of discussion, evaluations and speaking with Greg, we felt it was a perfect time for him to make his comeback and re-enter the NBA with the Miami Heat. It’s a great challenge for him. We know all about his past injuries, but we feel that there is a huge upside and the possibility of him helping us, that’s why we took the risk. We will continue his program and then we will tackle basketball issues after that.”
In his debut with the Heat, Oden came off the bench and scored 6 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in eight minutes of play. Later that season, Oden made his first start with the Heat scoring 5 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 13 minutes of play. The Heat made it to the NBA Finals and lost to the San Antonio Spurs. Oden was not resigned.
Playing outside of the NBA in China, TBT Tournament and the Big3 League
In 2015, Oden took his talents to China to play for the Jiangsu Dragons. In his one season with the Dragons, Oden played in 25 games averaging 13.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. He was cut once the Dragons were eliminated from playoff contention.
Oden also participated in The Basketball Tournament, a competition comprised mostly of former college stars who never really made it in the NBA. He played for the Scarlet & Gray with some of his former Ohio State teammates.
In 2019, Oden entered his name into the Big3 Draft and was selected by the Aliens with the ninth overall pick. Although he’s not the same player as he was in his prime, he can still move. Checkout his highlights from the Big3 here.
Life after basketball, net worth and where Greg Oden is now
While finishing his degree at Ohio State, Oden worked with the basketball team as a student manager. During this time, Oden got engaged to Sabrina Williams and the couple had a baby girl, Londyn Oden.
Today, Oden is a married man with a degree in Sports Industry. He works for Edyoucore Sports & Entertainment as an Athlete Advisor. When Oden received the job he said “This is a great opportunity for me to do something positive and share my personal story so that we can help people make smart decisions that will set them on a healthy financial path in life.”
During Oden’s basketball career he compiled $24,322,868 in NBA contacts and another $1.2 million from his time in China. Today, he has an estimated net worth of $16 million.
As mentioned earlier in the article, Greg Oden’s name appears on just about every “the biggest busts in sports history” list there is. While his career certainly didn’t amount to what people expected, it is definitely unfair to call him a bust. Greg Oden didn’t fail because he didn’t try hard enough or because he wasn’t mentally prepared. Greg Oden couldn’t make it in the NBA because his body wouldn’t let him.
For anyone reading this who may one day make a “biggest busts in NBA history list,” maybe think about leaving Oden’s name off of it this time.