With the 55th pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers (via trade with Dallas) selected guard Darius Johnson-Odom, making him 34th Marquette player to join the exclusive NBA pro ranks.
Johnson-Odom joined Marquette after a one year stint at Hutchinson Junior College, becoming the second/third junior college player under coach Buzz Williams to be drafted after Jimmy Butler (Bulls’ 1st round pick) and Jae Crowder (Mavs’ 2nd round pick).
The Raleigh, North Carolina, native was a dynamic scorer in his three years as a Golden Eagle, leading Marquette in scoring by averaging 18.3 points a game — good for second best in the Big East — on 45 percent shooting from the field. The smooth-shooting lefty also pitched in with 3.5 boards and 2.7 assists this past season in helping Marquette reach back to back Sweet 16s for the first time three decades.
Johnson-Odom was a model of consistency scoring the ball. Excluding the West Virginia game in which Johnson-Odom was suspended for the first half, he scored 17 or more points in all but one conference game. He made at least one 3-pointer in each Big East contest and made over 76 percent of his free throws, almost six percentage points higher than a year ago, helping him claim a spot on the All-Big East First Team.
Former Marquette assistant Aki Collins marveled at Johnson-Odom’s consistency during his time in Milwaukee.
“For a guy who finished 11th in career scoring only being here three years, he was 4th in career 3-pointers made, 8th in 3-pointers attempted, so he shot a higher clip,” Collins said. “I think people took for granted Darius was going to get you 17, 18, 19, 20 (points) every night. He never went off for 30 and I think people don’t respect his ability because of that. It’s hard to get those numbers the way he got those numbers.”
Although undersized for an NBA 2-guard at only 6-foot-3, Johnson-Odom impressed scouts and front offices everywhere with his explosive athleticism, recording a 41 inch vertical jump, the top mark for all prospects at the NBA Combine. He is a lethal force in transition, using his speed and power to finish at the rim, and has an effective pump-fake that complements his long range well.
A brief look at his performance during a summer league last season tells you all you need to know about his dynamic athletic ability and dunking prowess.
While at Marquette, Johnson-Odom had his fair share of dramatic moments, hitting the game winning basket against Syracuse in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournamanet, and causing Buzz to high step on the sidelines after a powerful put-back slam.