After an efficient sophomore year in which he averaged 13.0 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 47.4 percent from distance, Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom upped his scoring average by nearly three points this season and made big strides on the defensive end to became an All-Big East Second Team selection. On Sunday, DJO poured in 17 points, including the game-winning triple with 25 seconds left, to lift Marquette to an upset over 3-seeded Syracuse that clinched the school’s first Sweet 16 birth since the Dwyane Wade era. Friday, DJO will look to continue his hot play against No. 2 North Carolina, a school that he grew up about 40 minutes from in Raleigh, N.C, yet still wasn’t recruited by. Here are his words:
On Tuesday, we went to all our classes and then had a quick shootaround going through our offense around 3:45, then we left around 6. There was a group of students waiting outside the practice center for us and stuff as we left, and then we flew to Newark and got here around 11 o’clock. We had the rest of the night off because it was so late.
Wednesday, we woke up for breakfast and had study hall from 10:30 to 12, and then we left for practice around 1:20. We practiced at Seton Hall in their women’s gym for about two hours. We really got after it, working on stuff in transition, which UNC does very well. After practice, we ate at McDonald’s and took a nap. Then, we watched film for a while, not really talking much just getting an idea of what they do on both ends of the court. They’re very long and athletic, and they’ve got a lot of guys who can play multiple positions. They get up and down in transition, and Kendall Marshall, his IQ is above a lot of NBA players. He’s a great point guard, and he hasn’t even blossomed yet, but he has shown what he can do.
For me, this game’s big because I’m from Raleigh and got a bunch of friends who go to UNC. I wasn’t really an ACC kid, but, of course, everybody from Raleigh wanted to play for either N.C. State, Duke or North Carolina. For me though, I just love basketball, and I’m able to play for another great team. And fortunately after this game, I will have played all three teams from my area. It’s an amazing thing for me, and I just can’t wait to be out there.
I don’t think Roy Williams ever knew who I was out of high school. I don’t know if he knows me now, but I can’t take it personally – there’s certain things that coaches look for, and maybe I didn’t fit his style of play or his program – but I can never take it out on a team just because they weren’t recruiting me. Obviously, I fit another style, and I’m just glad to be here at Marquette.
But beating them on Friday would be amazing. I got a lot of people who go to UNC; I went to high school with a lot of people, and I know a couple of them on the basketball team. You know Justin Watts, we played AAU together. I went to CP3 camp with Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes, so it should be a pretty fun game for me.
As far as Marquette, we all love what we’re doing right now. This hasn’t been done at Marquette since 2003, so I don’t think the guys are really missing their beds. We were only at school for one full day, and then we left, so I think everybody’s enjoying it.
Thanks to all the supporters of the Marquette Golden Eagles. I’m blessed to be playing on a team like the one I am.
Follow DJO on Twitter at @KingMe_DJ1.
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