The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SCHMIDT: DJO, the man, the myth, the chin

If basketball players were measured in chin girth, Darius Johnson-Odom would be the king of the world.

If they were measured in menacing, lip-protruding scowls or being built like a mailbox with legs, he’d be Michael Jordan’s heir apparent, a lock for the Hall of Fame, a god among thunderstruck mortals.

Instead, players are measured by talent. But it turns out Johnson-Odom ranks pretty highly when it comes to that, too.

On Monday the senior guard with the three-foot vertical and dump truck build was named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top-50, which essentially puts him on the fast track to be a finalist for the award come April. It’s a distinction he shares with nine other Big East players.

There are some colossal names on this list, names that have weight and gravity and a certain air of validity. These names are more than names. They are college basketball.

North Carolina sophomore forward Harrison Barnes.

Ohio State sophomore forward Jared Sullinger.

Syracuse senior guard Scoop Jardine.

Connecticut junior forward Alex Oriakhi.

North Carolina senior forward Tyler Zeller.

It’s the Mount Rushmore of hoops. It’s only fitting that Johnson-Odom’s granite face be chiseled in stone right beside them.

He really is a star of the highest caliber. A face and talent that begs to be remembered.

He has the look, the fearsome gaze that could burn a hole through Superman’s chest. The prodigious athleticism. The smooth gait that he glides across the floor with. The thunderous jams, arm cocked back way past his head, ball grasped tightly in his massive mitts, then thrown through the terrified rim with ill contempt for all things round and orange.

And he has that name, the calling card of three letters that is singular in purpose, that only the truly worthy can don, like Cher, Bono, LeBron, Kobe, Tiger.


If you’ve watched him play for the last two years, you have to be  proud – but also very unsurprised – that he made it here, to the top of the heap, in the same breath as college ball’s big boys.

In his sophomore season he was the less talked about in a tandem of junior college transfers, with guard Dwight Buycks garnering much of the attention. Buycks was supposed to be the scoring machine, the instant offense, the future star.

But from very early on it was obvious that Johnson-Odom — we still called him that back then — was the real prize. He was dripping with raw, unchecked talent. We saw what he could do that first year in inconsistent but dazzling spades. We marveled in his ability. We feared his chin.

And he earned his name.

The junior campaign brought more highlights and tantalizing splendor, capped by one of the biggest shots in coach Buzz Williams’ tenure, a long, fearless 3-pointer with 22 seconds left against Syracuse in the third round of the NCAA Tourney. We marveled at his courage. We feared his roar.

And we chanted his name.

Which brings us to now. Johnson-Odom is a senior and the unquestioned star of this team. He’s easily one of the best players in the country. He’s proved that he belongs on that Wooden list. On Mount Rushmore.

This could quite possibly be a precursor to one of the most invigorating, mind-blowing seasons in Marquette history. The team has all the makings of greatness. The tough coach, firmly entrenched in his role as the team’s leader. The deep bench with a healthy mix of savvy vets and fresh-legged underclassmen. The pre-season hype. The national ranking.

And then there’s him.

You could call him a lot of things. Explosive, incendiary, gritty, clutch, tough, one of the most unique talents in college basketball.

But here at Marquette he’s simply known by three letters: DJO. And that spells greatness.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *