Former No. 1 overall pick Oden makes return to the court

Greg Oden (top) was taken No. 1 in the 2007 NBA draft by Portland, one spot ahead of Kevin Durant, who was picked No. 2 by Oklahoma City.

Greg Oden will forever be remembered as one of the many “what he could have been” stories in NBA history.

Taken with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State — one spot ahead of Kevin Durant, who went No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder — Oden’s career was destroyed by repeated injuries.

After two injury-plagued seasons with Portland, which saw him play a total of 82 games (61 in 2009 and 21 in 2010), Oden did not play for three years and was waived by the Blazers on March 15, 2012 before resurfacing and signing with the Miami Heat as a free agent on Aug. 7, 2013. He played in 23 games at age 26 for the Heat in 2014, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.2 minutes.

The 7-foot, 250-pound Oden finally retired from the league Oct. 28, 2016 at age 28.

“I’ll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history,” he told ESPN in 2016. “But I can’t do nothing about that.”

That didn’t mean he was finished playing basketball, however, as Oden — now 30 — returned Friday, playing for top-seeded Scarlet & Gray in The Basketball Tournament.

Having helped Ohio State to the NCAA Tournament championship game as a freshman in 2006, Oden hooked up with some fellow former Buckeyes such as Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Jon Diebler to play in TBT, which awards a $2 million prize to the championship team.

Oden, playing 16 minutes in his first attempt at competitive basketball since his days with the Heat in 2016, contributed 11 points and five rebounds in a 72-60 win over Prime Time Players in Atlanta.

The big man scored on the block, hit a couple of shots from mid-range and moved better than anyone could have expected.

Judging from Oden’s demeanor as he was given the honor of moving Scarlet & Gray’s placecard line forward on the tournament bracket, Oden has not lost his love of the game. Obviously, he had a blast.

Buford led Scarlet & Gray in the win with 14 points, including a game-clinching corner 3-pointer, while Craft had a typical line for the former Buckeye point guard, posting 13 points, nine boards and six dimes. He and Buford combined for seven 3-pointers in the victory.

Scarlet & Gray is playing this weekend without three of its key players. Sullinger and former Penn State guard Talor Battle are both getting married, while Byron Mullens left the squad after its first game over a dispute on the money split.

Oden’s NBA career ended up consisting of 105 games, in which he averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 19.3 minutes. He shot 57.4 percent from the field and 65.8 percent from the free-throw line in his career.

Oden and his teammates will next square off against another highly-hyped prospect that never made it in the NBA, Jimmer Fredette, who leads Team Fredette.

The game will be played Sunday at 3 p.m. in Atlanta and be broadcasted on ESPN.

Fredette, drafted No. 10 overall in the 2011 draft by the Sacramento Kings out of Brigham Young after being the unanimous national player of the year for the Cougars, never found a niche in the NBA, averaging just 6.0 points for his career.

The sharpshooter joined the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, for whom he averaged almost 37 points a game. He, and fellow former BYU star Brandon Davies, will provide a stern test for the shorthanded Scarlet & Gray squad.