Sunday, June 18, 2017

Orlando's Oliver On To Next Chapter

Few outside of Orlando knew much about Deloran “Niko” Oliver. That is until the mid-season tournament at Montverde Academy. The well-built 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard scored 28 points and created matchup difficulties all night, earning credibility across Montverde's sparkling, college-esque arena.

 Oliver decimated the defense on the full plate of deep 3-pointers, hard drives, step-backs, and rapid, catch-and-stick corner jumpers. He got into the teeth of the defense and never relented, scoring with contact and embracing the brutal at-the-rim hits.

It's no secret around Orlando, Oliver plays with a natural tenacity and toughness very few at the prep level can mirror. He possesses considerable elevation on his jumper and range, attributes which rendered him multi-layered en route to an 18 PPG scoring average this past season. In applying a steady pull-up game, Oliver seized the scoring mantle alongside point guard and Arkansas-Little Rock signee Cam Corcoran.
You’ll likely see the athletic combination guard two feet above the floor before his shot release. Oliver also has the football-basketball mentality, upping the physicality during tense moments. Adapting to rugged, in-your-chest defense and applying pressure all over the court vaulted him into a leadership position under coach Brad Traina at Conrad Academy (FL).

“First and foremost as a player, I pride myself on my impact on the defensive end,” said Oliver, who will prolong his career on the JUCO level at Ridgewater College in Willmar, MN.  

“If I can stop my opponent from scoring, if I can change his shot selection and negate him, at the end of the day I’m winning. Second off, I really look to make my teammates a beneficiary of my presence out there on the court. I always try to make those around me better. I try to find them at their spots, known where they are on the court and kick in the right pass at the opportune time.”

This team guy mentality ingrained in Oliver will certainly have special resonance next season. All signs point to Oliver attaining the keys to Ridgewater’s offense and keying a souped-up, go-go attack.
Partially due to his innate feel for the game and partially because he heads into his collegiate career as a  muscle-bound guard, conventional wisdom tells us Oliver will compete for the starting position.

It will be a transition from the score-first roles the 6-foot-4 guard shouldered at Oak Ridge and The Conrad Academy in Florida.

 As a tangible source of pure athleticism and sneaky bounce, Oliver has the potential to get easy buckets just hanging around the rim.

During his stay at Oak Ridge, Oliver’s presence was a necessity in accelerating Michael Devoe’s development. Devoe, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, has offers from Florida, LSU, Miami and a bevy of others.

“We really had a great relationship as teammates, especially because we were able to constantly make each other better and work harder because of the level we brought it to in practice,” Oliver said.

“As a defensive guy above all, me guarding Mike basically helped me learn how to work against an elite scorer. Mike guarding me, it helped him a lot because he was only a sophomore at the time. So, it kind of gave him a chance to guard a bigger guard who on paper has the size advantage on him. We helped each other in that way and we as a team reaped the rewards of it.”

Down the road, Oliver has the strength and athleticism to become a high-major player. Just how much his game grows this season will be a major barometer of this.