PHILADELPHIA — The NCAA tournament provides a month-long stage most college basketball players dream of taking. From the third week in March through the first week in April, the nation is fixated on Cinderella stories and Final Four hopefuls and the players who take starring roles as the drama plays out.
The intense focus provides every player in the 68-team field with a chance to elevate his profile in a way the regular season cannot. Generations of players have used to the tournament to go from unknown to intriguing in eyes of NBA teams.
“That’s how it is,” OU senior forward Romero Osby said. “Seems like every year there’s a senior or a guy who was on the verge of making that kind of jump. Then they have a good tournament or his team gets in the tournament and plays well, and next thing you know, they’re a top 30 pick (in the NBA draft) or something like that.”
For Osby, a game like today’s between the 10th-seeded Sooners (20-11) and seventh-seeded San Diego State (22-10) in the NCAA tournament’s South Region at Wells Fargo Center could serve as the catapult to a bright professional future.
There’s no doubt who OU’s best player has been this season. Osby enters tonight’s game averaging a team-best 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
“If Osby is not the best player in the Big 12, I don’t want to play the team that has the best player in the Big 12,” San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said Thursday. “He’s really, really good. He knows how to play. I read a lot about him, and he seems like the kind of player that every coach would love to have. His demeanor, what he says, what’s important. He’s a hard guard. He’s a very difficult guy to guard. He can put it to the floor, he can shoot it on you facing you to 18, 20 feet. He gets to the free-throw line.”