Boys Basketball: Homewood-Flossmoor’s Tai Odiase picks up his game, and his team
By Pat Disabato email@example.com January 8, 2014 9:18PM
Homewood-Flossmoor's Tai Odiase powers to the hoop against Marian Catholic. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2014 11:12AM
The plan of attack this season for Homewood-Flossmoor’s Tai Odiase is a relatively pointed one:
Take no prisoners.
That message isn’t exclusive to games, mind you. It’s a mission statement the 6-foot-8, 200-pound senior abides by during H-F’s practice sessions, too. It makes no difference to Odiase during practice if he’s matched up against one of his brothers, Tai’s twin, Ken, or younger brother Lucky, both of whom are 6-6.
Their pain is his gain.
“I have no mercy on anybody,” Tai Odiase said with a laugh. “When it comes to basketball, I treat my brothers like everybody else.”
Odiase is a young man on a mission this season. He’s averaging 18.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. His most dominant performance came during a victory over Joliet West, when he posted 35 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks.
Impressive numbers, considering Odiase pretty much was a role player last season for the Vikings. This season, he’s putting the team on his more sculpted shoulders.
“Tai has developed unbelievably since last year,” H-F coach Jim McLaughlin said. “Every facet of his game has improved. He plays the whole game. He’s in great shape. He blocks shots, takes a charge, takes the ball aggressively to the rim. He’s a throwback player.”
That makes sense, considering Odiase grew up idolizing Kevin Garnett and watched highlights of big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon. In fact, Odiase has patterned his game after Jabbar’s and Olajuwon’s, developing an effective baby hook shot, which the two Basketball Hall of Famers made famous.
“I watched a lot of Kareem and Olajuwon when I was little,” said Odiase, a Flossmoor resident. “I thought I could develop a hook shot. Coach (McLaughlin) makes me work on it every day in practice. I’m confident I can make it from 10 feet.”
Odiase, who plays AAU ball with Meanstreets, attributes much of his improved conditioning to a fitness and performance class at H-F.
“I’m in that class four times a week and I’m much stronger and in better shape this season,” Odiase said. “I’ve had to take more of a leadership role this year and speaking more on the court. I like leading.”
H-F fans hope Odiase can lead the Vikings, 6-5 overall, to a stronger second half of the season.
“I think we’re capable of achieving a lot,” Odiase said. “We have to shoot the ball better, especially from the free-throw line. Our defensive pressure has kept us in games. I think we’re going to be dangerous the rest of the way.”
Odiase will play college basketball at UIC. He’s confident the Flames coaching staff can help him fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA.
Odiase takes academics seriously. He plans to major in biology. If the NBA doesn’t pan out, he’d like to follow in the footsteps of his mother, Philomena, a registered nurse, and pursue a career in medicine, possibly as an anesthesiologist.
“If I keep working like I am now, I believe the best is yet to come,” Odiase said. “The work I’ve been putting in is definitely showing results.”