Osby watches and waits for the NBA tonight

One day before he finds out if 20-plus years of hard work will be enough for him to be selected in the NBA Draft, Romero Osby's on the phone in the car driving home.
He just finished a final physical in Orlando with the Orlando Magic, and his next stop is 600 miles away. His wife and daughter are riding home with him to the place where the dream began for him: Meridian, Miss.
Like this car ride, the last two months for Osby have been a journey. He's traversed the country auditioning for NBA teams at invitational workouts to show he can play this game.
video by Eddie Radosevich
In some cases, he's had to work out on consecutive days, and it's exhausting.
On Monday, he was worked out for the Chicago Bulls. By Tuesday night, he was tweeting his thanks to the Los Angeles Lakers for the chance to work out for them.
"The changes in time zones, it's a grind, but it's a blessing at the same time," Osby said. "So it's just like even though you're tired you just push through it because you know not that many people get this opportunity."
Osby doesn't want you to feel sorry for him. He knew he'd have to prove himself all over again as soon as the Sooners' season ended in March.
And that's what he's tried to do in 15 different cities for 15 different teams -- prove himself.
On its face, that's a bit of a slight for a man who after joining Oklahoma three years ago led the Sooners to their first NCAA appearance in four years and was an All-Big 12 First Team selection.
But Osby's used to the skepticism. More over, he expects it.
"I've always had to play with chip on my shoulder," he says. "So I'm accustomed to having to work for what I get. I don't take anything for granted."
He's treated each NBA workout like the most important job interview of his life, because, well, it is.
In that climate, what he accomplished in college means little. How he performs and the attitude he shows will be what NBA personnel remember.
So he played the game the way he played it at Oklahoma, the way he played it at North Lauderdale (Miss.) High School.
It's the only way he knows how.
He rooted for players he was competing with for jobs. He kept up the same chatter that rang through four walls of OU's men's basketball practice court at Lloyd Noble.
He competed with other job applicants with the thought if he could make them better, he could perform at his best, too.
"Every workout that I was in was competitive," Osby says. "The coaches were competitive. They wanted to see us do well, but they wanted to see us compete with each other and against each other."
Osby's strengths -- his leadership, his basketball IQ, his character -- aren't marked as highly as being 7 feet tall or having the ability to score at will.
And those are the kind of traits that excite most draft analysts, which is probably why many don't even have Osby on their draft boards. But that doesn't worry him.
"Nah, it's not discouraging because they don't pick teams," Osby says. "I don't really read too much into it because nine times out of 10 there's always a sleeper or a couple of sleepers they didn't even have on the draft board.
"The GMs, the coach and the scouts are the ones that make the final decision, and I know they're not looking at draft boards to find out who they should draft."
Some of those GMs, coaches and scouts have told Osby they like his game. They've told him they love his hustle, his attitude and his ability to shoot the 3-ball as a post player.
OU men's basketball coach Lon Kruger believes Osby deserves a shot in the league because he's proven to be a good man and a good basketball player.
Kruger said he received a few phone calls about Osby but doesn't know how much that might play into him being selected.
"Going in, he's a terrific guy," Kruger says. "They're going to love him as a person with all his intangibles. When he steps out there and also does well on the court they're intrigued by that and want to find out more."
On Thursday night, this 11-hour car ride will be over, and while some future first round picks will breathe easy knowing they're surely going to become NBA players, Osby will sit with family and friends, hoping to see his NBA dream comes true.
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