Ohio State’s Greg Oden goes up for a dunk Wednesday during a solo workout at the Trail Blazers’ facility in Tualatin. - AP

Oden shows stuff for Trail Blazers

PORTLAND — Greg Oden admitted he was out of breath after his workout Wednesday for the Portland Trail Blazers. By no means was the 7-foot draft prospect coasting in on his reputation.

"Really, I'm trying to sell them on me, not the other way around," the forward from Ohio State said after a vigorous solo workout.

The Portland Trail Blazers have the No. 1 selection in the June 28th draft. Oden figures to be one of the top picks along with Kevin Durant, a forward out of Texas, who is scheduled to visit the Blazers on Friday.

"All I can do is be me," Oden said.

A couple dozen fans stood across the street from the Trail Blazers practice facility south of Portland hoping to catch a glimpse of the Big Man. The media turned out in droves.

Team owner Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, sat and watched the workout with general manager Kevin Pritchard. Several players, including Zach Randolph, Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge also looked on.

"What came out is that he's a really good person who cared about how he did in the workout," Pritchard said. "He's a unique talent. To have an opportunity to get a kid like this is a great opportunity for this organization."

Said Allen: "Seeing Greg in person, it's not just his size, it's his amazing athleticism. You can see the potential there."

Oden was scheduled to meet with team doctors later Wednesday.

After getting a late start his freshman year at Ohio State because of a wrist injury, Oden led the Buckeyes in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (9.6) per game and topped the Big Ten in shooting percentage (.616).

The Buckeyes went 35-4 and won the Big Ten's regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to their first national championship game since 1962, where they lost to two-time champion Florida. In the championship game, Oden had 25 points and 12 rebounds.

After his workout with Portland, Oden was asked whether he likened himself more to Shaquille O'Neal or Bill Russell. Without hesitation he answered," Russell."

"Ten fingers, 11 rings," he explained.

Both funny and personable, the 19-year-old smiled broadly after jokingly telling reporters that he'd cry if he wasn't the top pick in the draft.

Oden says he and Durant are pals and trade text messages.

"We're pretty cool," he said. "This year we realized we were going to be connected for a long time."

Oden said he felt immediately welcome in Portland. Roy and Aldridge met Oden and his mother at the airport.

Fellow Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. has also declared himself eligible for the draft. Oden is represented by Conley's father, Mike Conley Sr., who won the Olympic gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Pritchard said the organization is keeping an open mind when it comes to its selection. None of the Blazers' brass was indicating which way the team might be leaning.

"This gives us an incredible opportunity to improve our franchise for the next decade, so you have to be extremely careful," Allen said. "But it's a lot of fun."

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