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2011-12 Player Preview: #1 Darius Johnson-Odom

Darius. Johnson. Odom.  Yeah, you may have heard of this guy.  In case you haven't, let me bring you up to speed. 

Darius Johnson-Odom -- the kids just call him DJO -- is a senior guard out of Raleigh, NC, who arrived at Marquette by way of Hutchinson Community College.  I'll never forget watching him play for the first time at the Haunted Hoops event in 2009.  You could tell right away that this kid was going to be a good one.  He proved that in his first year ('09-'10), emerging as the team's third-leading scorer and shooting a Novakian 47% from three-point land.  Last season, DJO was expected to become an even bigger part of the MU attack.  He struggled a bit in the early going, but found his rhythm in time for the conference season.  He wound up leading the team in scoring (15.8 ppg) and earning second team All-Big East honors.  Oh, and along the way, he also hit one of the biggest shots in recent memory: a late three-pointer against Syracuse that propelled Marquette into the Sweet Sixteen.

This season Johnson-Odom will be expected to be "The Man" for the Golden Eagles.  He'll be looked to as the go-to scorer and senior leader, just as Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler were before him.  There has been plenty of buzz coming into this season: he was voted to the preseason All-Big East first team and is considered a serious contender for the Big East Player of the Year award.  The lights will be shining brightly on DJO this season and I see no reason not to expect him to answer that challenge.

In My Wildest Dreams: The best case scenario for DJO is he lives up to the hype and then some.  We certainly know what he's capable of doing on offense, but he has history of being quite streaky.  There have been stretches where he looks completely unstoppable and drops 20 points in 10 minutes, but then other times -- sometimes in the same game -- when he disappears entirely.  I've often joked that if DJO could ever put two good halves together in one game he would easily score 40 points.  Hopefully this is the season that we see a few games like that.  I also hope that he continues to make strides on the defensive end this season.  After being a matador of the highest order in his first year at MU, DJO improved to a serviceable defender last season.  If he continues on that path defensively, and produces offensively the way we know he can, I see no reason DJO can't challenge for conference POTY and help Marquette make some serious noise this season.

In My Worst Nightmare: I dare not audibly speak the worst case scenario for this player, for fear that it might actually come true (hint: it rhymes with the name of the dude that hangs out with Ernie on Sesame Street).  Barring any awful, unforeseen circumstances, the worst scenario I can think of is that DJO is simply the same player he was last year.  Not that there is anything wrong with what he did last year, but I think everyone is counting on him to take that next step, just like Jimmy and Lazar did.  We're all hoping that he can seamlessly make the transition from Robin to Batman.