Romero Osby was in Norman for just three years and played for the Sooners for only two of those years. But the impact he made on the Oklahoma men's basketball program was greater than many players could make in four years.
Osby's leadership and work ethic has had a lasting impact on the Sooners, and is a big reason why Oklahoma is in position for a high seed in the NCAA tournament. However, Osby is busy working on his own personal goals: making it in the NBA.
Despite being drafted in the second round of last year's draft by Orlando, Osby was cut prior to the season and has had to take the hard route to the league through the NBA Development League.
"I got caught up in a tough situation in Orlando with the amount of power forwards they had, the amount of veterans they had," Osby said about his time in Orlando. "I was grateful for that opportunity they gave me and I think it propelled me into the D-League with a good name."
Osby's work ethic has garnered a lot of interest from several teams, but as is the case in any hard situation, there have been hurdles to overcome. In the midst of a very impressive stretch of play for the Maine Red Claws—the affiliate of the Boston Celtics—Osby suffered a torn labrum.
"A couple teams reached out to my coach and my agent saying they were really interested and really wanted to make something happen in the next week or two, but they wanted to know the result of the MRI," Osby recalled in a recent interview with News9.com. "When the MRI result came back as a torn labrum and I'd be out for the rest of the season, of course a team is not going to call up a player that is injured and can't help them. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take the next step."
Osby is scheduled to resume shooting in April and is prepared to get back on the court in July in time for Summer League. But a Summer League team is not what Osby has in mind as a permanent solution.
"My agent and his boss are continuing to talk to teams," Osby said. "This is a situation where I don't want to just be on a Summer League team. That's a blessing in itself, but I also want to have the opportunity to make a team or be able to have the chance to play in Summer Leagues and showcase my talents."
The prospects of the future are good, but Osby is still disappointed he missed out on the NBA after averaging 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 12 games for Maine.
"Things were going well," Osby said. "I hadn't been injured since high school, so it had been five or six years since I had gone through that.
"I've always been adamant about being a firm believer in God and a firm believer in things happen for a reason. Even though I was frustrated, I went back to my spiritual background to keep me balanced and keep me at a standstill and not keep me always frustrated or worried about what's going on around me."
The interest in Osby doesn't just stem from NBA and D-League teams; he's about to become a TV star of sorts. Osby will be part of a CBS special called, "Summer Dreams," a two-hour show that will follow two top NBA draft picks—Shane Larkin and Michael Carter-Williams—as well as unsigned players rising through the D-League, including Osby.
"They're trying to show the reality of the sports world from a different aspect that people don't get to see," Osby said. "You hear about contracts and think since a guy got drafted, he's automatically in the NBA, but it's not quite that simple. There are a lot of things, a lot of moving parts that go into it, so I think that's one thing the show is trying to highlight.
"It was a great experience for me and my family, being able to get drafted, them being there to shoot it and follow me around through the process of my contract with Orlando. It was an outstanding experience."
Osby takes comfort knowing he can play at the professional level and can compete with great competition. He said he thinks his name "still has a little bit of buzz" in the NBA, but knows he has to make some improvements if he wants to see his dream come true.
"I think it's two things," Osby said. "Being able to show I can defend on the perimeter as well as on the block, and then showing I can handle the ball. When I got to the Magic, they actually put me at the 3 in the middle of training camp to see how I would do and those were some of the things they gave me feedback on when they released me."
"It's just about getting a niche and once I find out what that niche is and carve it out, I think I'll be in the league for a long time."