(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.