We won't know this winter, when the gifted center finally earns a place in the box score, whether or not a season on the bench was for better or worse, but my feeling is that a year with nothing better to do than acclimate oneself to a new lifestyle will (ironically) expedite Oden's rise to greatness.
Though it's not too difficult to loose track of the #1 pick--what with his intimidating height, ESPN commercials, campaigning for Obama and a frequently-updated personal blog--SI.com's Ian Thomsen "caught up" with Oden in this flattering piece that bookends the former OSU player's season on the sidelines.
Thomsen learned that Oden is a workhorse in the gym, putting in more hours than any other Blazer and that coaches are hoping his return to full strength will help him drop weight before next season (Oden is 10 lbs over his playing weight with the Buckeyes.)
Those in Columbus will be happy to know that the departed fan-favorite still fondly recalls his time at OSU, many, many years ago.
One year later, Oden was in his Portland home with his uncle watching the NCAA tournament final, a game his Ohio State team lost to Florida in 2007. "The first play,'' he said, "the announcer said something about me and the trouble [Memphis' Joey] Dorsey had with me [in an Elite Eight game], and that was kind of cool -- like, 'Dang, I was there just last year.' "Need more reason to like this 7-foot teddy bear? He makes ice bags with the ball boys during half time.
PHOTO/ Richard Clement-Icon SMI