Darius Johnson-Odom's Year to Shine at Marquette
Most colleges are accustomed to losing players to the National Basketball Association on a regular basis, as the number of players who turn professional and succeed is often the hallmark of a strong program.
This is one year where Buzz Williams may be happy the NBA’s plans for next season were cloudy. Many players who may have turned pro decided against it this year due to the league’s uncertain labor situation. There is no guarantee Darius Johnson-Odom would have been among those skipping out to go to the NBA, but he is returning.
All of Milwaukee is smiling. The remainder of the Big East? Not so much.
Johnson-Odom is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference at 15.8 points per game, one point behind Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs, who was selected as the Big East’s preseason player of the year. Marquette, which was picked to finish sixth in the conference this year, no doubt got a big boost from Johnson-Odom’s return to the lineup. A second-team selection to the Big East last season, Johnson-Odom was the 43rd Marquette player to reach the 1,000-point mark, and his scoring average in the Big East (17.2) was even better than outside the conference. Considering the Big East is often regarded as the toughest conference in the nation, to hold your own in the conference and actually score higher is something on which Johnson-Odom should be proud.
His scoring numbers from sophomore to junior season rose from 13.0 to 15.8, but Johnson-Odom’s field-goal percentage fell from 45.5 percent to 43.3 percent and his 3-point percentage dropped from 47.4 percent to 36.4 percent. Johnson-Odom was not at Marquette as a freshman, by the way; he spent his first college year at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College.
Don’t read too much into the decline in field-goal and 3-point numbers. Johnson-Odom took more shots last year than he did as a sophomore, meaning the team trusts him with the ball and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
If the Golden Eagles are to make a big run in the Big East, Johnson-Odom will need to keep his game steady or elevate it to another level. The spotlight shines on Milwaukee. Here is hoping Johnson-Odom is up to the challenge.
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