The forward has already proven himself in a crowded frontcourt
Daniel Oladapo joined Oakland last year after a stellar freshman year at Chipola College where he averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on his way to being a First Team All-Panhandle Conference selection. The 6-foot-7 forward was an instant-impact performer with the Golden Grizzlies as well, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 9.2 points per game and third on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game in 2020 despite playing off the bench for 13 of his 33 appearances. He accomplished those numbers while sharing the frontcourt with First Team All-Horizon League forward Xavier Hill Mais and senior center Brad Brechting.
With Hill-Mais and Brechting gone, Oladapo becomes the obvious focal point of the frontcourt this year. His 26.3 minutes per game as a sophomore could increase pretty significantly in 2021, and early indications are that his main competition at forward will come from freshmen. As is the case with Adrian Nelson at Northern Kentucky, this will present Oladapo with a great opportunity to establish himself as a force on the glass while his young teammates get acclimated to college basketball.
Some fair criticisms of Oladapo’s breakout potential are that Oakland lost a lot of talent and that a team with him as the main post presence might not fare well if a team where he was a spot starter finished 8-10 and in sixth place in the Horizon League. It’s unlikely that Oladapo will be able to fill the shoes of Hill-Mais, who likely would’ve been a strong contender to steal Horizon League Player of the Year from Wright State’s Loudon Love if the Golden Grizzlies were more competitive last year.
That brings us to the next reason Oladapo is such an intriguing pick to break out in 2021. The team appears to have solved arguably its biggest issues from 2020 by landing a pure point guard. Jalen Moore earned Third Team Junior College All-American honors at Olney College last year, where he averaged 19.3 points and an incredible 7.9 assists per game. With Moore running the offense, Oladapo could see entry passes that he and his frontcourt teammates could only dream of in 2020. While it’s fair to wonder how the 155 pound guard will will translate to Division I, Oakland Head Coach Greg Kampe had no trouble figuring out how to find ways to allow another diminutive guard Kay Felder to shine early and often.
It’s possible that the additions of Moore and Western Illinois transfer Zion Young — the Leathernecks’ second leading scorer in 2020 with 13.2 points per game — could take away from Oladapo’s offensive production, but it’s equally possible that having three perimeter-oriented volume shooters will give Oladapo more second-chance opportunities. He led the team with 2.5 offensive rebounds per game a season ago despite sharing the post with Hill-Mais and Brechting.
With his minutes and his role likely to increase significantly while his competition for post touches decreases, Daniel Oladapo looks like he should be poised for a breakout season in 2021. If he can continue to be a force on the offensive glass while the shots are coming from the perimeter instead of the post, Oladapo should be a consistent double-double threat this year. If Oakland can find a way to get all of its new pieces to play together and finish toward the top of the league, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Oladapo find his way onto an All-League team.