ODU Men’s Basketball Kicks Off a Season Worth Watching

by | Nov 16, 2021

ODU Basketball Season Preview


Old Dominion basketball was one of the best teams in Conference USA last season. The team finished with a 15-8 record overall and went 11-5 in conference play. 


The 2020-2021 campaign ended abruptly for the Monarchs in the Quarterfinals of the Conference-USA tournament, suffering a 55-61 loss to the University of North Texas. 


This year’s team will look very different, as three of their starters moved on from the program, including last year’s leading scorer Malik Curry, who transferred to West Virginia. Despite the departures, Coach Jeff Jones’ offseason recruiting has many analysts predicting them to finish atop the conference. 



New Faces Will Make A Big Impact


ODU brought in seven new players this season, including three first-year students and four transfers, who will all look to contribute right away. 


Two sharpshooting transfer guards will help ODU solve the outside shooting problems they’ve had in recent years. ODU was Conference USA’s worst 3-point shooting team last season. 


A transfer from SMU, Charles Smith IV made 44.7 of his 3-point shots last season for the Mustangs of the American Athletic Conference. Smith was a four-star recruit as a high school senior in Atlanta who came to ODU searching for more playing time.


North Carolina Central transfer C.J. Keyser averaged 16.4 points per game last season, ranking third in the MEAC while earning first-team All-MEAC honors. He also finished eighth in field goal percentage at 46.8 percent.


He’s a versatile offensive weapon that can both shoot and drive to the basket. The explosive scorer also brings plenty of experience. Keyser played two seasons at Wichita State before transferring to N.C. Central for two more seasons.




Transfer Portal Changing College Basketball


About 1,500 players entered the transfer portal last season. “It’s definitely a different challenge,” Coach Jones said. “I don’t know about better or worse, but it’s different.”


“You used to always want to have a couple of freshmen and a couple of sophomores for continuity. Forget about that. I can’t tell you who, but we’re going to lose somebody in transfer at the end of the year. No matter what kind of culture you build and whether they like it or not.”


Key Returning Players


Returning starter A.J. Oliver II, a Clemson transfer, led ODU with 33 three-pointers last season. 6-foot sophomore Jaylin Hunter, a former Connecticut high school Player of the Year, played well as Curry’s backup last season, averaging 6.6 points per game. He’ll take over at point guard this season.


They’ll also return three talented veterans along the front line. Kalu Ezikpe, a 6-7 junior from Atlanta, notched 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last year. Ezikpe should have more room to operate in the paint and take his game to the next level with the added perimeter scoring. 


The 6-7 forward from Chicago, Austin Trice, averaged 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds while earning the Conference USA Sixth Man of the Year award. He and Ezikpe were a formidable duo last season, splitting time at center.


Mekhi Long, a 6-7 transfer from Rhode Island, was also an integral part of the team. He’s a solid scorer, defender, and rebounder.

Justin Russell

Norview, NFK

Justin is a lifelong resident of the Tidewater. He's written for a number of nationally recognized online platforms covering sports and entrepreneurship. He has a passion for local sports, having grown up played high school football in the competitive Peninsula District in the Newport News area. Justin graduated from Virginia State University with a degree in Sports Marketing.

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