Against huge odds, Victor Oladipo walked onto the NBA draft stage Thursday.
Those odds were far behind Oladipo, the No. 2 selection in the draft, by the time he shook hands with commissioner David Stern and donned an Orlando Magic cap.
The odds were torn down by the 6-foot-4 guard long ago, as he went from a player barely in the top 150 to one of the best in college.
Oladipo is a success story.
He is the Dwayne Wade of 2013, crafted by the college game, but a product of his own work ethic. While Indiana coach Tom Crean mentored both players, he wasn't the one who put Oladipo in the gym on his off time, night after night.
"In the three years he was here, especially during the season, there might have been two days he took off," Crean said. "One, I told him not to come in."
The former Hoosier has come a long way from highlight tapes that showed plenty of dunks, but just one three-point attempt. He's far better than the freshman guard who was known for defense and athleticism, but not much more.
Oladipo went from role player to a player of the year candidate on his own volition. He's earned every comparison made this season, whether it's Wade or another NBA star.
And he got here, on this stage at this moment, by churning out improvements in his shooting and ballhandling day by day – before, during and after practices.
"He stayed in the gym and put his cones up and started to work on different things, with a coach, without a coach, with a graduate manager, and work on his shooting," Crean said. "Even if we went to weights and to film, he always came back out.
"We got to the point where we went on the road, we took the cones with us because he wanted to work on and set the cones up at the walk-throughs after we had our walk-through practice."
Crean called it "a force of purpose." It was a work ethic he could intensify, but could not create. That came from Oladipo, who Crean said wore out the sound system at Cook Hall from cranking music during late-night workouts.
With Oladipo, it's hard tell if that was a joke. Crean gave no evidence that it was.
"It was always, always a lot of extra work for him," Crean said. "The thing that impressed me so much about him: It didn't matter how long we went in practice. It didn't matter what we did after in the sense of films or weights. He always came back out. He always came back. He always had to do more.
"He did so much that we never saw because it would be late at night. It was nothing for him to watch an Eastern Conference game or a Western Conference game and be jacked up and come in here and shoot for another hour."
Crean said – joking or not – that Oladipo wore his swipe card to enter Cook Hall out, too.
He called Oladipo an "absolute competitive nightmare." He lauded the guard's charisma, humbleness and ability to look people in the eye. He shot down claims that Oladipo couldn't play point guard or didn't have enough length to defend at a high level in the NBA.
But it's up to Oladipo to prove those things. Luckily for him, he has a track record of proving doubters wrong.
"This was never supposed to happen to him," Crean said. "And what he's done is he's just worked his way with a sheer force of purpose."