The first time you watch Indiana State’s Jake Odum play, the first thing you notice about him is that he seems to be everywhere on the court. He’s playing point guard, he’s driving to the basket, he making smart passes, he’s getting steals, and he’s even diving out of bounds to get to the ball. For many college basketball fans, and writers, watching Odum play the past few years was a special treat. No one on the floor was going to outwork him, and you felt bad for opponents who underestimated him.
Odum wrapped up his senior year with another post-season bid for the Sycamores; his fourth in his 4-year career, including 2 NIT bids and an NCAA bid. He finished this past season with an impressive 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game average, as well as a 2.3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Odum was also invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he was named to All-Tournament Team, averaging 11 points and 7 assists per game.
As he prepares for the next step in his career, I had the chance to talk to Odum as he reflected on his college career and looked forward to his future.
“I matured so much since I was a freshman,” said Odum. “You think you understand the game, until you get to college and you learn so much more. I was able to learn the game from a high IQ staff.”
The maturity wasn’t just mental for Odum. “I grew a lot in college,” said Odum. “I came to school as a freshman at 6’1 and 150 pounds and left around 6’3 or 6’4 and 180 pounds.”
The time at Indiana State also held special significance for Odum, as he was a local player from Terre Haute, Indiana, the home of Indiana State. “It was an honor to represent Terre Haute these past four years,” explained Odum. “I have a lot of pride about where I’m from and when I stepped out on the court, I wasn’t just representing myself or the team, I was representing the community. The people have been supporting me my whole life and I know most of the people who came to the games.”
Odum was part of one of the best four-year stretches in Indiana State basketball history, including one of only four NCAA Tournament appearances in school history, as well as a victory in Hawaii over a Miami team that was ranked #2 in the country at the time. It’s no coincidence that Odum was a significant contributor to those achievements.
Now, as Odum prepares to shown NBA teams what he can do on the floor, he has a good idea of what his strengths will be. “I am a high IQ basketball player, a floor general, and understand the role of a point guard,” said Odum. “I want to go out there and dictate the flow of the game and lead the group. If I do that, my chances on the court will come.”
While he polishes his strengths, Odum is also spending time working on some areas of his game that he knows will be important for NBA teams to see. “I’m really working on getting stronger and developing my body,” Odum explained. “I’m also working on becoming a more consistent three-point shooter and being able to hit the open shot. I’ve always played where I was always looking for a better shot, but it’s more about taking the right shot and making the right reads.”
As he continues to develop his game, Odum has a good sense about how he could come in and help any team right away. “I understand the game and I understand how to take what a coach wants and bring it to the floor,” said Odum. “I’ll get on the floor and make my mark on the game, whether it’s running the team or just having a nose for the ball and making plays.”
Odum knows that competition for spots in the NBA is fierce, but that only motivates him. “I know I will be the hardest worker out there for any team that takes me,” said Odum. “I’ve been the underdog and looked over before, but I feel I’m just now starting to reach what kind of player I can be. I have the IQ and work ethic, and I know I will develop everything I need to be successful.”
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