FORT WAYNE – Cody Zeller and Kevin Yogi Ferrell prepared to face off in the long-distance shooting contest Saturday at Hoosier Hysteria.
ESPN’s Sage Steele, the emcee for the event, gave the microphone to guard Victor Oladipo, who then provided his unique brand of commentary for the competition.
Take it easy on the freshman, Oladipo said to Zeller.
A fan favorite, Oladipo produced laughs and energy throughout the night. He sang, he led the team through a dance routine and conducted interviews. He also won the dunk contest, bringing the crowd to its feet by jumping over seven people huddled together under the basket on his first attempt.
Our players have a lot personality, Indiana coach Tom Crean said. A guy like Victor, when he plays with personality, he’s really, really hard for the opponent to deal with.
We’re not going to stop the game and give him a mic and let him try to juice the crowd up. But when he’s out there playing and he has that energy at a high level and his personality is rolling and he’s on the attack, he’s really, really good.
This month, the junior guard told a group of reporters that when he first arrived on campus, he was quiet. The reporters responded with laughter.
I know it’s hard to believe, but I was, Oladipo said. And now I’m getting more comfortable with this role of being a leader, and hopefully, I can continue to keep doing that not only now but throughout the year.
I want to keep leading at a high level. I believe if we lead at a high level, we’ll play at a high level.
Oladipo’s defense is at a high level. He was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team last season after collecting 49 steals. His 1.4 steals per game ranked eighth in the Big Ten.
Oladipo played in 36 games last season, making 34 starts, and averaged 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2 assists. He scored a career-high 23 points in a road win last season at Purdue.
Oladipo is working on his three-point shooting after making 20.8 percent from three-point territory (10 of 48) last season.
He said it comes down to shooting with confidence.
I think it’s all about my mind, to be honest with you, Oladipo said. I’ve been working really hard. I’m not going to stop working really hard.
It’s different from shooting here (during a practice) than when the lights are on. We’ll see. I really believe I’ve become a way better shooter than I was last year, and I’m going to continue to work on it.
Note: The Hoosiers will hold their Haunted Hall of Hoops Sunday at Assembly Hall.
The doors open at 1 p.m., and admission is free. The Cream and Crimson scrimmage begins at 2 p.m. followed by events, including a parade for kids in costumes and an autograph session.