Whatever happened to... Churchill Odia?

It's the time of year where Ohio baseball teams finish fading into the background, Ohio football teams haven't really warmed to their full level of mediocrity for the year, and school still seems fun. In short, there's not a lot going. To combat this, basketball fans freak out over every bit of signing and recruiting news they can get their hands on. Sites like this one pump out the information, and suddenly everyone is an expert on how quickly Semaj Christon releases a jumper.

Sometimes though, the recruiting hustle, the constant hype, the breaking news all doesn't pan out. Sometimes you get Churchill Odia.

Churchill Odia was like a lot of other names being recruited. He had obvious talent, flair, and a knack for making his flaws seem very fixable. Scout.com called him "one to watch", his 8.5 APG in his junior looked like the start of something, and Chris Francis of Hoop Scoop Online called him "that great player." Best for Xavier fans, the Musketeers beat national powers like UNC, Louisville and Florida for the 6-6 guard. With Josh Duncan, Brian Thornton, and Stanley Burrell all arriving as well, the 2004 class was stacked.

The Nigerian born Odia and his #56 RCSI arrived at Xavier as one of the first truly big names the school landed. Head Coach Sean Miller wasted no time in throwing him out on the court to let him live up to his billing. Midway through the season, Odia was backing up the guards and logging more minutes than Josh Duncan. What Churchill wasn't doing was scoring.

Odia's height came with the caveat that his speed on the ball was somewhat lessened. Confident that Churchill could develop a jumper, Miller kept running him out and giving him the green light to shoot. As Xavier grew more and more desperate for wins down the stretch (they would finish 17-12) their number one recruit became more and more of an afterthought. Just nine months after being heralded as the kind of player who could impact a Final Four, Odia played two minutes against UD. The writing was on the wall.

Looking for opportunities, and perhaps missing Thad Matta, the man who recruited him, Odia transferred out of Xavier before the following season. In his year in the blue and white, Churchill averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 assists per contest. That didn't keep another contest for his name from break out though, and Odia landed in Oregon to resume playing in the 2006-07 season.

Five years after his basketball career in the US began, Odia was done. Three more disappointing years in Oregon saw him fail to ever develop a consistent jumper but successfully develop knee problems. Odia tallied double figures only twice in his career, topping out with 12 in a 2008 win over Washington. His vast potential mostly unrealized, Odia now plies his trade in combines and semi-pro events in the US.

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