Thursday, April 2, 2009

Darius Johnson-Odom

(Sorry for the delay folks) I'm sure that everyone is already aware, but for those who have yet to hear the latest news, Marquette University has gained another committment for the upcoming class of 2009. Darius Johnson-Odom, a 6'2" combo guard out of Hutchinson junior college in Kansas, pledged his allegiance to the Golden Eagles on Wednesday and will have 3 remaining years of eligibility at Marquette. Now if anyone here is expecting a full-fledged break down of Darius' overall game, sorry but you've come to the wrong place. I do enjoy staying up to date with the recruiting radar, however I do not keep up with JUCO/Prep school ranks (I mean, not many people do). So here's what I know (per our friend TR): Johnson-Odom is a lefthanded guard that prefers to attack the rim, but is also highly capable of shooting the outside jumper. He shot 47.9% from the floor, 38.8% from beyond the arc, and 77% from the charity stripe this past season at Hutchinson. Similarly to Jerel McNeal, Johnson-Odom seems to be a stat stuffer as he averaged 21.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per outing. When asked to describe his game, Darius said that he is a tough guard that can get to the rim, shoot the ball, and shoot the 3 very well. He is also described as very athletic, which was verified after checking out a couple of his dunks on you tube. Apparently, Darius also had offers Pittsburgh, Kentucky, and Cincinnati with heavy interest from Tennessee and West Virginia.

My first reaction after reading this was "another JUCO?......WTF?". Of Coach Williams' 9 committments (holy shit! Buzz has gained 9 committments in 365 days 17 hours and 46 seconds, and has had 103 practices, 32 games, 288 glasses of sweet tea, 58 Southern Style Chicken sandwiches from McDonalds, and 32 tins of skoal over that time.....Whew!) Back to the matter at hand......Buzz has done a lot of work since Crean's exodus 1 year ago. One thing that concerns me however is the trend of JuCo committments to MU. Of the 9 committments that Buzz has gained, 5 have been from JuCo and 1 from a Canadian YMCA. And since Junior Cadougan's committment last summer, only one of the last five has come from a high school ball player (Aaron Bowen out of Jacksonville, Fl). Now I don't necessarily have anything against JUCO guys. Many schools like to go this route, John Cal's Memphis squad for one, but it seems a bit too much for my taste after only one year of recruiting.

This brings me to a concern that a number of us have raised in the past. While Marquette is in THE best college basketball conference, is it at a level where Buzz will consistently be able to bring in top notch talent every year? It seems that if there isn't a guaranteed starting position available, these guys go elsewhere......see Darius Smith, Chris Colvin, Michael Snaer, Iman Shumpert, Tyshawn Taylor to name a few. These are all guys that had MU on their final lists but ultimately decided to go elsewhere. It just seems that we have been falling just short on getting that extra guy, that quality depth that the UConn's, UNC's, and Louisville's seem to get year in and year out. The jury is still out on Aaron Bowen for the class of '10 (obviously), but at this point it seems as if we are back to '05 when we had that ONE solid class with not much else to surround it. Again, we don't know a whole lot about Johnson-Odom. I suppose to look at it optimistically, he had interest from a number of other quality basketball schools so he must have showed something to them as well.

After thinking about this committment further, I have come to the conclusion that it probably is a decent signing. MU is in dire need of help in the guard position. I have zero faith in Acker and Cubillan (sorry guys) in their senior years, and considering Cadougan and Buycks are the starters (IMO), additional talent in either position is welcomed (although I would have liked to see Darius Smith come in as a freshman instead). Also, at this point in the signing period the pickin's are slim so while I wanted D.Smith, it sounds like Johnson-Odom is overall a solid player and should be able to contribute at the 1 or 2 positions immediately. Currently MU is 1 man over the scholarship limit which leads me to two possible conclusions. 1) Hazel is transferring - No offense to Pat, but I hope this is the case. With the talented forwards coming in I doubt that he is going to be able to contribute anything so it's in his best interest to bolt and at least get some time on the court. 2) Liam Mcmorrow's injury situation isn't getting any better and could lead to another red shirt or possibly career ending. I hope this isn't the case as shocking enough, we are in need of some size/depth down low, so losing him would hurt.

To sum this up, overall I am pleased with what Coach Williams has done thus far. I think that he has realized the failures of Tom Crean's tenure and is trying to field a well balanced yet athletic squad that is capable of competing in the Big East. Right now, we have one remaining scholarship for the class of 2010, and I pray that Buzz is pressing hard for help in the middle. Again, it looks like MU is going to be lacking up front with the injury to Mcmorrow so at this point finding a big body for the middle is absolutely critical for this class. All other positions seem to be well balanced, so if Coach can manage to get that big man that MU has craved for 5 years I think that MU will continue to compete at the highest level. I am not too optimistic about next year with the lack of experience that will be on the floor, but I think that like 2005, we will be able to get wrapped up in a large class of talented young ball players that we can watch for the next 3-4 years. I'm excited to see what they can do! Stay tuned for next year's player profiles and predictions.

Sorry if I rambled here.....I am finishing this after our marathon draft and after a sixer of Leinie's 1888bock.


Sheets' Va Jay Jay said...

I like it. Help to "mature" the team up a bit. Plus, it looks like this guy can ball.

I wish I had some 1888 Bock right now. Stupid being in school. At least there aren't any students today. Hooray for inservice.

EMoney said...

Am I the only uncomfortable one with so many juco guys?

Also, has anybody heard anything regarding Vander Blue and pulling out of his committment to UW? There are rumors swirling that suggest he wants to play with Maymon at the next level.

Devil's Threesome said...

I am not comfortable with the JUCO influx at all! They rarely pan out. Yeah, yeah Jimmy Butler was decent this year, but 1) he was only decent, not a difference maker and 2) Jamil Lott 3) Joe Fulce 4) Trend and on and on and on. They rarely work out and, generally speaking, are academic risks. I like that it balances out the classes, but I hope that we only recruit JUCOs in emergency situations going forward. Remember when people were comparing Fulce to Shawn Marion? Ugh...

I firmly believe the Blue rumors are just that, rumors. I'd be shocked (and pleased) if he decommits.

Rubie Q said...

I can't speak for everybody else, but I'm fine with the JUCOs. We had a terribly unbalanced roster after Crean left, and this represents the quickest, most efficient means of balancing the roster. Plus, we've only got two "real" JUCOs (Clark in '10 and Buycks next year); Butler, Fulce, and DJO were one-year deals at junior college.

I've heard the rumors about Vander Blue, but I think they're just idle speculation from Marquette fans who can't fathom Vander wanting to waste his college years in the Swing.

Devil's Threesome said...

Rubie hit the nail on the head with the Blue comments.
JUCOs aren't a viable long term strategy, so I hope this is just to plug the leaks in the dike.

EMoney said...

I understand that last year we had major leaks, so Butler and Fulce were necessary. And I'm really ok with Buycks because he was a solid prospect out of high school, has played really well at Indian Hills, and we were in need of guardsreplacing the seniors.

However, adding DJO next year and Clark in '10 gives me the impression that Buzz a)can't get good high school kids without guaranteeing major playing time and/or b) is trigger happy and almost panics when he loses out on other prospects.

This is why I severely questioned the offerring to Clark for '10. At that point Buzz had about 1.5 yrs to go and recruit true high school prospects, so why go out and throw a scholarship to a JUCO player 1.5 yrs early. Clark should have been more of a last resort at this time next year. This was especially odd after Buzz maintained committment from E.Williams and received committments from Maymon and Cadougan......all top 100 prospects. I figured sweet, Buzz is hammering these recruits, and was very interested to see what he did with the following class. Since then it's been juco's and a slight project in Aaron Bowen. It's a bit unimpressive to say the least. I suspect that because our coaching staff is comprised of coaches from less successful programs (as a rule), that they are simply going by their old habits and have lower standards than what is necessary at a quality Big East program. I'm worried.

Charlie Weis's Gunt said...

It doesn't bother me as much about the JUCOs as long as it doesn't become a habit going into the future. If Buzz is still recruiting 2-3 JUCO players next year, my opinion will change.

In regards to Blue...the rumors are in Madison as well. I don't think it is just the Marquette fan base...having talked to a few friends who follow the Badgers they have legit concerns that Blue wants to be in a more open offense.

EMoney said...

In my opinion Blue committed too early, I believe at the beginning of his soph. year. At that point he was good, but I don't think that anyone thought he would necessarily become as good of a player that he has. Wisconsin was probably one of the best offers at that time and he took it. However, now that he's become a top 100 recruit, many other opportunities.....better opportunities are becoming known to him. I think this is making him start to question his initial decision.

Furthermore, when he committed, WI didn't have the depth at guard that they will have when he arrives. Hughes/Bohannon will be gone, but Wilson and Taylor will be Juniors, and it sounds like the Badgers have 2 more pretty good guards coming in....Diamond Taylor and I believe some kid out of Minnesota next season. That's four guards ahead of him already. Combine that with the fact that Bo makes it tough for freshman to earn playing time makes his decommittment almost sensible at this point in time. And did I mention that Bo's offense is suffocating to talented guards?

I think he's going elsewhere. Not necessarily Marquette, but not Madison.