2. The One-Handed Godzilla
Oden’s magnum opus as a basketball player was undoubtedly his performance in the 2007 NCAA Championship Game. Ohio State lost to Florida and their all-NBA frontcourt (Noah, Horford and Brewer), but Oden nearly won the game by himself. The freshman had 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. So let’s get this straight: Going against a team about to win its second consecutive NCAA championship with a frontline sporting three upperclassmen (all of whom would go on to do time in the NBA… as starters, All-Stars, defensive stars) and playing with basically one hand because of a wrist injury, Oden was BY FAR the best player on the court.
This felt like a coming out party. All season, we saw glimpses of what the freshman could be. But when you’re reduced to shooting free throws with your off hand, it’s hard to accurately access. Despite that injury (there’s that word again), Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks on 62 percent shooting for the Buckeyes. Before starting their own debate atop that summer’s draft board, Oden and Kevin Durant became the first freshmen in nearly 20 years to be named to the Associated Press All-American Team.