Shy Odom played in a lot of high-profile, high-pressure games at Sierra Canyon High School before getting to Howard University.
Thirty-two games into his collegiate career, he knows that even as a highly-regarded recruit — its a whole new ball game.
“College is a way different game in high school,” Odom said after Howard’s blowout win in its MEAC Tournament opening. “So I had to do a lot of things like get in shape, get my body a little bit more stronger and healthy and stay healthy.”
So far, so good.
Odom was named the conference’s rookie of the year on Tuesday night, and he showed why on Wednesday night. He put up 13 points on six-for-seven shooting in 19 minutes of action. The 6’6 Boston native also dished out four assists on the night before he and the rest of the starters spent much of the second half on the bench.
“With Coach Kenny (Blakeney), he’s just taught me how to be a player that can balance out the scoring while also facilitating and taking care of the ball. All the other essential things of being a good Division I basketball player. I’m just trying to be a sponge and soak all of it up and just be that player I know I can be.”
Wednesday night’s game was Odom’s 15th in double-figures on the season, showing why he was a three-star prospect while playing on the same team with Bronny James and Zaire Wade at Sierra Canyon. While his name is Shy, the freshman handled the small gathering of media with a savvy many veterans lack. He credits veterans like Jelani Williams for helping him grow as a player and a student-athlete.
“Me — as a freshman — I get to learn how I need to handle myself on the court. But off the court as well,” Odom said. “They do a great job of being role models and just the preparation of the game.”
Blakeney is just as impressed with Odom off the court as he is on the court, which is saying something. He credits Odom’s mother for doing a great job with him as he excels as an all-around student at HU.
“Freshman finished semester with a 3.2 GPA,” Blakeney said. “Coming into Howard with a lot of fanfare and pressure. And he’s done everything beyond the call of duty that we can ask. The thing I love about Shy, especially with our group, is his basketball IQ, and it allows us to be a group that, when you have four or five guys that are all out there on the court at the same time, they can make decisions with their passing.”
Wednesday night’s win was the 20th of the season for Howard University, a mark the school hasn’t hit since Odom was born. If Odom continues to develop, that could become a consistent win total moving forward.