The Georgia State Panthers men’s basketball team is coming off another successful season under head coach Rob Lanier, which saw them win the Sunbelt conference tournament and punch a ticket to the big dance before eventually falling to the number one seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
They finished 18-11 on the season and were the only program in the entire state to make the NCAA tournament.
After their loss to the Bulldogs, there were rumblings that Head Coach Rob Lanier was the frontman for the SMU head coaching gig.
After a grueling interview process, the Mustangs landed their man, leaving the Panthers with a vacancy at the head coaching position.
From the very beginning of the search, the name that kept popping up in droves was Jonas Hayes. He was the interim head coach for the Xavier after Travis Steele was fired mid-season.
Hayes, a former player for the University of Georgia, took the team on a magical run after being thrust into the big man’s seat without warning.
He went undefeated and led Xavier to an NIT championship in his brief stint as head coach of Xavier.
This cinderella run catapulted Hayes’ into the pool of names offered top jobs during the offseason. GSU was aggressive in their approach, which ultimately helped the Panthers find their guy in Jonas Hayes.
His first order of business was to start recruiting within the transfer portal by acquiring Dwon Odom, a 6’2, 182 lbs point guard who played for Hayes at Xavier.
He is returning to his hometown, where he was a prep star at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, Ga. He was the 55th overall prospect for the class of 2020.
Coming out of St. Francis, Odom was the third-ranked player in the state of Georgia and the ninth-best point guard in the nation.
“Built like a running back and extremely athletic. A high riser with strength and quickness. Tremendous penetrator who excels at finishing in the lane and can also find teammates. Not [an excellent] 3-point shooter and has a herky-jerky release.”
“Potential to be an elite defender. Could have better rebounding numbers. Should develop into an NBA draft choice,” Jerry Meyer director of basketball scouting said.
The Panthers are getting a guy who has significant potential that has yet to be fully utilized.
At Xavier, Odom played in 55 games with 20 starts while averaging six points, two and a half assists, and two rebounds per game.
The numbers only back up his reputation as an efficient scorer. This past season, Odom shot 58.4% from the field and 80.4% from the free-throw line.
He also brings elite defense to this Panther’s lineup. He swiped 33 steals in just 36 games while averaging just 20.7 minutes per game for Xavier this past season.
Hayes saw the ability that Odom possessed during his time there and see’s the potential they could tap into by giving him more minutes.
Odom had one of his best games at Xavier during the NIT championship game, recording 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a blocked shot to help secure the 73-72 victory over Texas A&M.
The ability to play your best in the biggest games is a highly coveted trait.
Jonas Hayes hopes to get the best version of Odom as a Panther and plans on playing off his strengths by surrounding him with complementary pieces.
With the addition of Hayes, Odom, and the move to the $82.5 million Convocation Center this fall, it is an exciting time to be a Georgia State basketball fan.