This is the second match-up of a 16-person bracket looking at the best individual season performances of the last decade. The complete bracket is at the bottom of each match-up. Vote early and share. The more votes, the better.
8. Darius Johnson-Odom (2011-12) vs. 9. Jimmy Butler (2010-11)
The case for Johnson-Odom: Were it not for Crowder’s torrid play at the end of the year, most would remember DJO’s in much higher regards. The Raleigh native was second in the Big East in scoring (623 points), third in 3-point field goals made (77), and fifth in free-throws made (126). Johnson-Odom may not have gone off in any game, but his consistency was remarkable, scoring in double-figures in all but one game he played (against West Virginia when he was suspended for the half). With his tremendous leaping abilities and dead-eye shooting, DJO put in a performance for the record books in 2011-’12.
The case for Butler: Much like Lazar Hayward, Butler sat in the shadows his first two seasons at Marquette, but he really bloomed in his senior year. His numbers weren’t all that overpowering, but he was about as efficient as he could have been and stepped us a leader on a team that desperately needed one. He shot 49 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, and guarded four positions on the court at any point in a game. He also led Marquette to its first Sweet 16 appearance since Dwyane Wade, playing superb defense on point guards Tu Holloway and Scoop Jardine in the NCAA Tournament. His offensive rating (121.2) was almost as good as Jae Crowder’s (122.1) senior year. One more from KenPom, he only committed 1.5 fouls per game.
Teammate Rob Frozena, on Butler: Mr. James Butler had a great senior season that concluded with a trip to the Sweet 16. However, the main reason he was so successful that year was not his game on the court, but his work off of it. It was no secret Jimmy was going to have to be the leader of our team that year, having just lost three quality seniors in Mo, Cubi, and Zar. I coudn’t tell you how many times Jimmy would go to the gym around 10 or 11 p.m. and shoot. He would put up shot after shot after shot because he knew how important the season was going to be.
One of the greatest memories of Jimmy, was his leadership during Boot Camp. He didn’t necessarily vocalize his leadership, but was always there leading by example. When every guy was breathing heavily after just running their 30th sprint of a “16” (That’s half court and back, full court and back, in 16 seconds), Jimmy was already waiting on the line to run the next one.
Well all that hard work translated into his senior campaign. The season was a roller coaster at times, to say the least, but Jimmy made sure his senior year would be remembered. One of the Top 3 moments in my college career was when DJO hit the 3 pointer against Syracuse with 25 seconds remaining.
However, how many people actually watched how that shot happened? If you watch the tape, Jimmy drove the ball directly at the two defenders, forcing both of them to help. This allowed DJO to sneak around the back where he was able to get a clean look. If you believe that Jimmy didn’t know exactly what he was doing then, you’re lying to yourself. His basketball IQ was/is off the charts, and that is why he is playing for the Chicago Bulls today. Thanks is strong part to Jimmy Butler, his/my senior season will never be forgotten.