Conley, Cook will leave with Oden

Conley, Cook will leave with Oden

Conley, Cook will leave with Oden

The Ohio State trio of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook came into Columbus together and it appears as though they will depart after just one season with the Buckeyes.

According to a pair of sources close to the situation, the three players will release a joint statement Friday morning with each declaring for the NBA Draft.

Oden will sign with an agent, most likely former track and field star Mike Conley Sr., who coached the trio in summer basketball. Conley and Cook will hold off from signing with an agent for now, but if all goes well in individual workouts for NBA teams, they will likely sign with an agent prior to the June 18 deadline to withdraw from the draft.

Conley, if he elects to keep his name in for the draft, will obviously sign with his father.

The 7-foot Oden has long been considered the No. 1 overall pick in the June 28 NBA Draft and it's no surprise that he's leaving school after just one season — although Buckeyes coach Thad Matta really did seem to believe that he might stick around for another season in Columbus.

Oden's career in Ohio State lasted 32 games after he sat out the first seven due to off-season wrist surgery. While he never quite lived up to the lofty expectations that many placed on him, Oden still averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game and helped the Buckeyes advance to the national title game.

He finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Florida in the championship game.

The 6-foot-1 Conley Jr., who has played in Oden's shadow in high school and in AAU ball, watched his NBA stock rise dramatically over the latter portion of his freshman campaign. Conley, according to a pair of NBA executives, could be the top point guard taken and that would likely put him somewhere among the top dozen picks.

Conley showed as much poise as any freshman in the country and was unflappable, especially in big games. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 assists per game and is one of the rare true floor leaders in this day and age of scoring point guards.

Cook, a talented 6-foot-5 wing, started his career out strong, but his production and playing time dwindled over the course of the season and he became disenchanted with his reduced role on the team.

While Oden and Conley were unquestionably stars for the Buckeyes, Cook was far more enigmatic. His talent has never been questioned, especially on the offensive end, but he has a tendency to disappear at times in games. Matta decreased his minutes towards the middle of the season because Cook wasn't defending as well as he wanted.

If Conley and Cook do elect to keep their names in and sign with an agent, it will be a major blow to Matta's program. Ohio State has a strong incoming class coming in this fall, highlighted by 6-foot-11 Kosta Koufus, but the Buckeyes will go from a team capable of getting back to the Final Four to a club that is isn't a lock to get back to the NCAA tournament.

Freshman David Lighty's role will increase and junior Jamar Butler would likely go back to running the team. Junior college big man Othello Hunter was solid early in the season when Oden was out and continued to play well as Oden's understudy.

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