Q & A: Victor Oladipo on IU, his NBA career and more

  • 10/09/2015 11:24 am in

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Former Indiana All-American Victor Oladipo is entering his third NBA season with the Orlando Magic and earlier this week, he was at the KFC Yum! Center for a preseason game against the Miami Heat.

Following shootaround on Wednesday afternoon, Oladipo spoke to Inside the Hall and other assembled media about a variety of topics. We’ve transcribed some of those comments below in a Q & A format:

On what he has carried on from his IU career to the NBA:

“The mentality, the going hard, the dropping your shoulders, the staying low, all of that. It translates to this league. It’s basketball at the end of the day. The mentality of wanting to get after it on the defensive end and wanting to get it on the offensive end carries over to the NBA as well. I learned a lot over there and it prepared me very well.”

On Derek Elston returning to Indiana as the director of player development:

“I think it’s feathery. I think it’s real feathery. He’s going to love it and the guys are going to love him. He’s going to be great for them, a great mentor for them because he’s been through it. He can relate. He knows what they’re going through. It’s going to be good for him and it’s going to be good for the program as well.”

On what Tom Crean means to him:

“He means a lot. Coach Crean was like the father figure away from home. He developed me as a man and as a player. He definitely helped me flourish. He put me in a position to be successful. He believed in me. I only had one college offer coming out of high school and it was Indiana. So he believed in me when nobody else would, so he means a lot to me.”

On what he makes of the criticism aimed at Crean for off of the court issues:

“At the end of the day, people are going to like you or people are going to hate you. Growing up and just being in certain situations, I’ve learned and come to understand that you can’t please everybody. Because of the position he’s in, with great power comes great responsibility. When things go good, they blame him. When things go bad, they blame him, too. Indiana is a great university and sometimes, those young men, they go away from campus and they might make mistakes. But they’ve got to be smart about what they do.

“It’s a great university, but it can get you in trouble if you’re not smart. Those young guys, coach Crean, he can only do so much. He can’t be with them 24/7. They’ve got to be smarter with their approach and realize they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. At the end of the day all of this is going to harp back on coach Crean. He’s basically the father figure over there. Everybody is like, ‘what’s he teaching them and stuff like that?’ In all reality, he can’t be with them every day. So those guys have to be men. They need to grow up. That’s the biggest thing. That’s what we did and they have to do the same thing. They’ve got realize that there’s something way bigger in jeopardy than going out and doing what they do.”

On whether his group just made better decisions during their time at IU:

“Yeah. Plain and simple. We realized it was much bigger than ourselves. We had fun, we were college kids. We had fun. But we did in a smart way. You can have fun in college. I’m not telling you to sit in your house or sit in your apartment and not do anything. You can have a good time, but you’ve got to be smart about what you do. You have to realize that everybody is watching you when you put on that jersey. Everybody. And if you get in trouble, everybody is going to know. You have to be smart about what you do, who you hang out with and who you associate yourself with.”

On if he’s seen IU’s team this year and what he expects out of this season:

“I met pretty much everybody. I expect big things from them. Honestly, I think they’re one of the best offensive teams in the country if not the best. Again, the big fella down there (Thomas Bryant) is going to help them defensively. I’m looking forward to watching them and I think they’re going to open some eyes. I think they’re going to make a run. They’ve got some great players over there. They’ve got some great young players. They’re well coached so it’s going to be fun to watch them.

On what he’s expecting from Victor Oladipo this season:

“Victor who? (Laughs.) I’m just expecting to win. It’s time to win. I’ve been in this league, going into my third year now and we just expect to win now. I think before we just kind of go out there and get our feet wet and play hard. Now we expect to win. We can’t just wait around. No one is going to let us win in this league. The hardest thing to do in this league is win. We just have to figure out a way to do it.”

On what he’s looking to improve in his third season and how he would assess his game:

“Assess my game? I’m OK. I’m alright. I have some flaws, some things I need to improve. In all seriousness, I’ve gotten better. I feel better. Things I need to improve are just being precise and not make too many mistakes. Just taking care of the ball and things like that. As far as shooting the ball, it’s going to go in and it’s not going to go in sometimes. I’m just going to keep shooting it with confidence. I feel like every shot I shoot is going in so that’s all that matters even if I miss. That’s my mentality. I just have to keep improving day in and day out. I still have so much room for growth and so much room to improve. I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I really think I can be. I just got to keep improving and getting better.”

On how he’s developed at becoming more of a verbal leader:

“It’s getting better, definitely. There’s a lot of quiet guys on our team. I think I’m one of the more vocal guys, so I might as well put it to good use.”

On Yogi Ferrell and how much he’s improved from his first season until now:

“His jump shot has improved drastically. I remember when he used to get mad when he missed. Now he doesn’t miss. His body has improved, you guys see that. He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten faster. He’s shooting the ball better. He’s just better overall. He’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders over there and in all four years pretty much he’s had weight on his shoulders and a lot of expectations for him. And I know he has a lot of expectations for himself. The sky is the limit for Yogi.

“It’s a big year for him. He can do a lot of big things, a lot of great things, go down as one of the best players to ever come out of Indiana. He’s just got to keep improving and he’s got to keep those guys intact. He’s got to make sure those guys aren’t doing anything crazy and keep them together because it’s going to be hard. The Big Ten is not an easy conference and it didn’t get any easier. He’s just got to get through all of the storms. There’s going to be some storms because that’s just how the Big Ten is. Nobody is going to win every game. He’s got to be smart and bring those guys together as a leader because whether he likes it or not, he is one. He’s just got to lead by example and lead vocally.”

On whether Yogi can play in the NBA:

“Definitely, I think a lot of guys over there that they have right now can play in the league. They just got to, like I said, keep improving and they’ve got to win. That’s the biggest thing.”

On whether defense is a mindset and what he saw defensively last season:

“It’s tough. They didn’t have a lot of size like we did. But I think somebody has to lead them defensively. I feel like when I was there, I probably, you’d have to ask my teammates, but I was the catalyst on defense and set the tone defensively. Somebody has got to do that there. Whether that be Yogi, Troy (Williams), somebody has to set the tone of, ‘look, we’re going to lock up tonight. And we’re going to get stops and that’s the reason we’re going to win.’

“Because at the end of the day, you can’t win any games without playing defense. Just like here in the league, top five defenses go to the playoffs. So that’s what we’re trying to do right now in Orlando. Some of it is technique but a lot of it is just the mentality of wanting to get stops. Everybody is different. Not everyone can press up and turn guys and stuff like that. Some guys aren’t as quick so they got to use their length. But everybody can have the mentality like ‘I’m going to figure out a way to stop somebody.’ That’s one mentality they just have to have.”

(Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

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  • straight no chaser

    What a brilliant, charismatic man. Makes a coach’s job a lot easier.

    Noteworthy that he didn’t say guys were doing things wrong, just that they should be smarter about what they do. Meaning: outsmart the system before it outsmarts you.

  • kennygeorge

    Victor was truly, one of the most professional, dedicated, loyal, and hardworking Hoosiers I’ve ever seen. That’s judging from 1973 and forward. There have been some great ones too! I’ll never forget this young man. He brought joy to the court.

  • IUMIKE1

    What a great young man and what a great ambassador for IU, bball and otherwise. If I had a daughter I’d be sending him her phone number and address. lol

    He may not have accomplished the same things at the next level that Wade has, YET, but I don’t hesitate for a second to hold him up as a big of a plus when it comes to IU and bball. One of my all time favorites of IU bball for sure.

  • Outoftheloop

    Victor is GREAT, as a player, as a man, as a representative of “the good”!

  • straight no chaser

    Yes, and it’s also significant that he didn’t approach our player “indiscretions” in a moralizing way (which many in our fan base are guilty of) but rather stressed that players should be “smart” about where and how to engage in certain activities. I think this is the right message to our players and students in general. There is a time and place for the little harmless indiscretions. We need more role models like Vic to impress this sort of nuanced common-sensical thinking on players, because they are not going to get this sort of “practical” advice from CTC.

  • SilentBob

    This dudes humbleness amazes me. Special guy. Gotta say he is tied with my childhood hero (AJ Moye) for my favorite IU player of all time.

  • Young Hoosier

    Hopefully this year Tobias and Vucevic will help on the offensive end. That’ll help Vic to actually play defense again. The Magic can have a great defensive backcourt with him and Payton. Vic just has to remember what defense is. Magic have offensive weapons like Harris, Vucevic, Payton, CJ Watson and rookie Mario Hezonja. Vic just hs to trust them offensively. I’d say he knows where his defense has been lately (terrible last year) and will be working on it. Don’t need to try and be James Harden. There are two sides of the ball.

  • And One

    I keep hearing this player or that referred to as possibly “the next Oladipo.” That may as well stop, because there’s not going to be another Oladipo. Unless Vic Jr. ends up in candy stripes somewhere down the road.

  • Outoftheloop

    You have to score to be an All-Star in the NBA. Victor will settle for nothing less!

  • Esquire

    This may be a decade down the line, but can’t you just see a guy like that as a coach? A great college coach? A great college coach at a great college program?

  • hoosiersfan33

    Absolutely love Oladipo’s comments on Crean and the players’ decision making. Crean is not their babysitter, he is their coach. If you want to criticize Crean’s coaching ability, that’s fine. But the off the court issues? I don’t get that. At the end of the day, its up to the players to make their own decisions and hold themselves accountable. This is college; they have the right to have fun. Just have to be smarter about it.

  • straight no chaser

    I think it was more about Vic not getting help on defense, and they are back on the (slow) upswing it seems.

  • marcusgresham

    Except that he has such a good shot at a far easier career on-camera talking about coaches. lol

  • straight no chaser

    Not trying to be the pessimist here, but what happens if we don’t get Jarrett Allen or Thon Maker, and Thomas Bryant leaves next year? We need Jarrett or Thon, or preferably both, to build on our balanced recruiting momentum. Right now it looks like Thon to ASU and Jarrett to Texas. Even if Thomas stays another year, I’m tired of having only one dependable big, and then scrambling for another mediocre big last minute. If CTC can develop bigs, then most recruits don’t yet know it. What can we do to develop a reputation for developing bigs?

    We will never be a consistently good defensive team, not to mention offense, without a steady pipeline that guarantees at least two competent bigs per year. I think Vic would agree.