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An offer too good to refuse

Prep star Oden to participate in Team USA camp

Posted: Wednesday April 26, 2006 4:53PM; Updated: Wednesday April 26, 2006 6:04PM
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In winning a third high school state title in four years, senior Greg Oden averaged 22 points and shot 74 percent from the field.
In winning a third high school state title in four years, senior Greg Oden averaged 22 points and shot 74 percent from the field.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Add Greg Oden to the list of players who will participate in this summer's Team USA tryout camp.

Oden, the 7-foot Ohio State-bound center considered the best high school player in the country, has agreed to join 23 NBA players in the camp to be held July 19-25 in Las Vegas, USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo confirmed Wednesday.

The tryout camp will be used to select 15 players that will compete in this summer's World Championship in Japan. Colangelo said Oden's pending college enrollment would likely prevent him from competing in those games, but he could be part of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"The purpose in having him there this summer is to expose him to USA Basketball, give him a chance to compete with [international-level players] and get a feel for what he needs to do," Colangelo said.

"This is really for a couple years from now. Let's see how far he progresses. Maybe he's ready for '08."

Oden is expected to be the No. 1 overall draft pick in '07 if he decides to enter the NBA Draft, which is the earliest he could come out under new league rules. The former Indiana high school standout has won virtually every national Player of the Year award. He might even be the best pure center on Team USA right now.

Colangelo said he met with Oden at the McDonald's All-American Game in San Diego in March, and then again at the Roundball Classic in Chicago in early April to discuss his taking part in this summer's camp.

"He was a little leery about it at first. Maybe a little intimidated," Colangelo said. "But he's fine. He came around.

"His focus right now is on college. [But] this is really a head start on his college program. To be able to have the coaching and competition he'll get in that setting is beneficial. The people around him are really encouraging him. Number one, they all recognize it's a great honor. And number two, it's a great opportunity."

Colangelo said there would be no NCAA issues at stake with Oden's participation. He also said Ohio State is on board.

"They like it," Colangelo said. "We certainly have an invitation to [Buckeyes coach Thad Matta] to attend and be around. We think it would be great."

Oden will join a camp that will include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Elton Brand among other NBA stars. The team also includes two former college players, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Duke's J.J. Redick.