By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
PIEDMONT – Growing up, Piedmont senior Alex Odam has been a huge Kansas Jayhawk fan. He’ll soon be playing for a bird of another color much closer to home in the near future.
Odam, a 6-foot-3 point guard, signed his official National Letter of Intent with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Wednesday morning. His signing day at Piedmont High School was Thursday afternoon.
Odam averaged 25.3 points, 5.5 assists, 5.6 rebounds and three steals for the Bulldogs (21-8) last season.
Piedmont’s all-time leading scorer, who is on pace to surpass 3,000 points in his prep career this season, is believed to be Piedmont’s first Division I basketball signee since Calhoun County Sports Hall of Famer Bob Miller (Class of 2016).
Miller averaged 16.9 points and 11.9 rebounds and established several team records in two years at Auburn (1952-54) after starting his college career at Jacksonville State and serving in the Korean War.
“It’s definitely something that’s pretty cool,” Odam said. “This being more of a football school, and even the success in baseball we’ve had in the past few years, it kind of makes it more special that the basketball program gets a little more recognition. Being able to represent Piedmont in basketball is kind of awesome.”
“I don’t think people realize on a D-1 basketball team there’s only 13 scholarships. To be one of those 13 is pretty special,” Alex’s father and head coach JoJo Odam said.
Coach Odam feels the Gamecocks are getting “the typical gym rat.”
“People don’t realize the work he’s put in. There are lots of days he’d get up at 4:30 and be in Guntersville training with his trainer by 5:30 on a school day and then get back to school. He’s just worked so hard for it. I couldn’t be more excited for him.
“He’s known as a scorer in high school, but I think when he gets to college he’s going to be more of a point guard. He scores a lot of points in high school probably out of necessity. There’s games where we need 35 here and 35 there, but he gets more out of making a good pass to a teammate than he does scoring. I think he’s going to be a good point guard at the next level.”
Alex will also join his older brother Preston at JSU. Preston Odam is a manager with the Gamecock women’s basketball team.
Alex entertained offers from UAB, Samford, Belmont, Mercer and others, but it was the JSU coaches that he said drew him in to being a Gamecock.
“The schools that did invest their time were awesome, but at the end of the day, I had to choose one and I feel like I chose the best,” he said.
“I’m super excited with what Coach (Ray) Harper’s got going on down there and the success he’s had in the past few years. It’s something I really want to be a part of. Going to Conference USA is going to be big. It’s big-time basketball. I think people around here kind of shadow it a little bit because it’s right down the road, but the level of basketball down there and the level Coach Harper has them playing at right now is something that doesn’t happen often around here.”
With his college decision now final, Alex can concentrate on his upcoming senior basketball season at Piedmont.
“It’s kind of a weight off my back, but there’s still more work to do and I know that,” he said. “The goal of course is to make it and win a state championship. I think if we can get past the hump, get past Plainview or whoever it is at JSU, I’ve never played on that stage in Birmingham. That’s really what this year is about. I feel like I’ve accomplished just about everything that I want to individually except for getting to Birmingham and getting a state title. That’s really my only goal this year.”