TERRE HAUTE —
By Missouri Valley Conference rules, no one from the “home” school can vote for players for the All-MVC team that they coach, work for, or cover as a member of the media.
That means none of the four voters who represent ISU in the MVC voting block — ISU coach Greg Lansing, ISU sports information director Achim Hunt, ISU radio play-by-play man Brian Fritz and Tribune-Star writer Todd Golden — were allowed to vote for Odum on their ballots.
Which means Odum’s appearance on the 2013 All-MVC first team — which was released on Tuesday — pleases Odum because it’s a recognition that comes from those who have learned to respect him from afar.
“It’s a huge honor. I appreciate it when people who aren’t involved with Indiana State give you credit,” Odum said. “It’s always a good thing because a lot of people here at Indiana State don’t get a lot of credit, especially in the Terre Haute area, for accomplishing the things they do.”
What Odum accomplished was to be the first Sycamore named a first team All-MVC player since Matt Renn did so in 2001.
Odum was joined on the first team by Creighton’s Doug McDermott (the Larry Bird Player of the Year), Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael, Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early and Evansville’s Colt Ryan.
“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment. The last guy to do it was Matt Renn, and what an outstanding career he had and player he was. The biggest thing about both of those guys is helping their team win. Matt took his team to a conference championship outright and won a conference tournament. Jake’s got a [NCAA] tournament to get into to catch Matt,” Lansing said.
Odum has averaged 14.4 points — a career-high — along with a team-high 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game — good for second on the squad along with Justin Gant.
“He deserves it. Everyone knows it. That’s why he was picked. He’s a great player. What he’s done this year is stepped up his scoring. He’s become a dual-threat. He’s huge and probably the biggest piece of our team this year,” ISU guard Lucas Eitel said.
Odum has been a mainstay for the Sycamores throughout his career. Much of what he did well in his junior season he’s done well throughout his career, especially as a floor general. Odum was most pleased with his ability to adjust to defenses that have been more tailored to stop him this year than they’ve ever been previously.
“I got the feel for teams throwing different defenses at me. My freshman and sophomore years, we had guys who had been around like Carl Richard and Dwayne Lathan who other teams had to key on, so I was under-the-radar,” Odum said.
“This year, teams had to key on me. Being able to adjust on the fly to different ball-screen defenses and when guys were going to rotate, that’s one of the biggest adjustments I made this year,” he added.
ISU’s good first two-thirds of the MVC season — the Sycamores were in first-place as late as Feb. 12 — no doubt also helped Odum’s cause as far as earning first-team honors.
“The team success in the beginning put us on the map. We’re picked seventh and beating teams like Miami definitely bring eyes upon the program and helps us get looks,” Odum said.
Odum has never basked much in the glow of individual honors. He has often downplayed them in deference to the contributions his teammates make to his own success. Odum’s reaction on Tuesday was no different.
“As always, I have to give credit to my teammates and coaching staff. It’s an individual award, but without those guys, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do out there,” Odum said.
No other ISU players were on the other All-MVC teams released on Tuesday. The All-Bench and All-Improved teams will be announced today. The MVC Coach of the Year award will be announced on Thursday in St. Louis.
G Jake Odum, Indiana State Jr.
F Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State Sr.
F Cleanthony Early, Wichita State Sr.
F Doug McDermott, Creighton Jr.
G-F Colt Ryan, Evansville Sr.
G Tyler Brown, Illinois State Sr.
F Carl Hall, Wichita State Sr.
G Anthony James, Northern Iowa Sr.
G Walt Lemon Jr., Bradley Jr.
F Ben Simons, Drake Sr.
Honorable mention: Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State; Anthony Downing, Missouri State; Gregory Echenique, Creighton; Grant Gibbs, Creighton; Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois.