Chris Oladipo told The Post then that he, in fact, did attend his son’s DeMatha games — “I don’t make myself as obvious as others do,” he said — and he recently told Sports Illustrated he’s also been to Indiana games, too, claims that Oladipo himself said were untrue.
“What people don’t realize is his dad loves that boy to death,” Jones said. “There were plenty of times where Vic was coming home at 10 and his dad was waiting outside Largo High to pick him up from a workout. . . . The situation is what it is and yes, his dad shows his love for his son differently than maybe some are accustomed to, but I know his dad does care and love his son.”
Chris Oladipo was born in Sierra Leone, and his mother, Joan, in Nigeria. They moved to Prince George’s County and had four children, pushing them all to be disciplined and responsible, pointing each toward college. When tradition-rich Indiana wanted Oladipo to play for its basketball team, his father had other ideas. “It was hard to tell him I wanted to go to Indiana,” Oladipo told The Post in 2010, “because I knew how bad he wanted me to go to Maryland or Harvard.”
But those who know the family say that doesn’t mean Chris Oladipo doesn’t care about his son.
“Part of that I think is the different culture that his dad was brought up in,” Jones said. “But Victor clearly has taken his work ethic from his family’s culture and made it a part of him. . . . I don’t think his dad thought he’d be this good, but he’s clearly very proud of him. He just has a different way of showing it.”
Even if Oladipo’s father wasn’t raised around the game, he still was able to impart some lessons that translated to the sport. The work ethic that coaches and teammates constantly rave about was instilled by his parents, who could not be reached for this story. “I’m in the gym working hard because I saw all of them work hard,” Victor Oladipo said. “They taught me to strive to be great and to always work to get better.”
“Without them I wouldn’t be here,” he said last week. “They’re the world to me. They cheer me up when I’m down. And when I’m happy they just make me more happy. They’ve always been there for me, even when it seemed like I had no hope, no chance of being where I’m at right now.”
Myth No. 3:
He was never a starter
“This guy didn’t start at DeMatha High School as a senior,” Bruce Pearl, the former Tennessee coach, said on ESPN last month. “He couldn’t shoot, he couldn’t dribble. He was a 6-3 power forward that Tom Crean took a chance on four years ago.”
Oladipo’s high school teams were loaded. Among this year’s NCAA tournament field alone, Oladipo played alongside Duke’s Cook, Syracuse’s Jerami Grant, Georgetown’s Mikael Hopkins, Pittsburgh’s James Robinson and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.
“A lot of people didn’t really get to see how talented he was on our high school team because we were just so loaded,” Cook said.
If Crean was gambling with Oladipo, he at least knew the odds weren’t too bad. The truth is, Oladipo started his senior season at DeMatha and was very good.
It was during Oladipo’s junior season that Jones struggled with a problem few coaches complain about: He had seven guys who deserved to start. He met with his team before that season and explained that he had only five blue starter’s jerseys to go around.
“Vic just said, ‘You know what . . . ’ and he switched his jersey to the gray team before anyone asked him to,” said Black, who now plays at Morgan State.
“He’s all about the team and winning,” Jones added. “He wanted to win moreso than hear his name called in that starting lineup.”
Oladipo kept working on his shot, always arriving early and staying late. While others complained about suicide sprints, Oladipo embraced competition. If he wasn’t the first to finish, he’d tell everyone to line up to run them again.
“You could say I flourished later or was a late bloomer or whatever you want to call it,” he said.
By Oladipo’s senior year, Jones had no choice but to start him. En route to being named first team All-Met, Oladipo averaged 11.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks and DeMatha won both the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title and the city championship.
The win over Ballou in the City Title game in 2010, in fact, was the last time Oladipo played at Verizon Center.
Myth No. 4:
Basketball is his only talent
In the spring of 2011, after Oladipo’s freshman season, the Hoosiers held their inaugural “Spirit of Indiana Showcase,” an awards program honoring the school’s student-athletes. Wearing a white cable-knit cardigan and sunglasses, Oladipo walked through the audience, crooning Usher’s hit “U Got It Bad” as he made his way to the stage.
“He’s always singing,” senior Jordan Hulls said, “no matter where we’re at.”