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GWINNETT GRADS: South Gwinnett product Odume enjoying breakout season at AUM

Former South Gwinnett standout Tina Odume is having a breakout season for Auburn-Montgomery. (Special photo)

Former South Gwinnett standout Tina Odume is having a breakout season for Auburn-Montgomery. (Special photo)

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Former South Gwinnett standout Tina Odume is having a breakout season for Auburn-Montgomery. (Special photo)

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Former South Gwinnett standout Tina Odume is having a breakout season for Auburn-Montgomery. (Special Photo)

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Tina Odume

Dan Davis had better connections than other college coaches during his recruitment of Tina Odume.

Odume, a standout post, played high school basketball at Davis’ alma mater, South Gwinnett, for one of his good friends, fellow South alum Jaime Kruppa Fisher. If the Auburn-Montgomery head women’s coach failed to sign Odume, it would have hurt more than most losses on the recruiting trail.

“Oh yeah, I didn’t want to lose her,” Davis said. “It was fun going back to South Gwinnett. It always is. I enjoyed going there for the signing process with her. It was a great time. I’m glad we got her here.”

The fruits of that labor is beginning to pay off in a huge way for Davis.

Odume, after two developmental years in college basketball, is in the midst of a breakout season. She averages 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds, fueling a team that has been ravaged by injuries this season.

Those numbers are way up from her sophomore season, when she averaged 4.9 points and 3.9 boards, and from her freshman season, when she played sparingly.

“I would say I’m a lot more comfortable now at being aggressive,” said Odume, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds in her last game, a win over Brewton-Parker. “Being aggressive at finishing, being aggressive at rebounding, just being more aggressive overall.”

It’s a transformation Davis saw coming. The coach said Odume’s athletic ability and long-range potential could make her an All-American next season if she wants it bad enough.

“When we signed (Odume), we saw gobs of potential,” Davis said. “She was real raw, but every year she’s gotten better. I’ve been saying, ‘Sooner or later, it’s going to click for her and watch out.’ It’s clicking for her now. She’s really playing at a high level and she’s nowhere near reaching her peak.”

Davis said Odume’s mental improvements have been just as important as the physical ones, and the 6-foot-2 junior agreed. She said she’s more aware of the game and what’s going on around her, and she’s also learned to push past fatigue, a key more than ever this season.

AUM has made due with just seven players all season, entering the weekend with a 10-8 record, but just two games out of first in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Injuries have taken their toll, particularly at the guard spots.

“It’s been tough,” Odume said. “We’ve only had seven players all season, three post players and four guards. But we’ve been doing pretty well for only having seven players.”

One of the injured players is Brookwood grad Jazmine Jackson, who has been out since mid-December with a concussion. She is expected to return soon.

Duluth grad Aerial Carruthers, a freshman, has played in every game for AUM, while Marren Schwartz, a 6-2 junior, averages 6.6 points and 9.2 rebounds. Schwartz is from Dacula, where she played high school basketball before transferring to George Walton Academy.

Schwartz joins Odume for an impressive frontcourt duo. With some of their injured teammates slated to return soon, those two hope to lead a late-season charge.

“We’re definitely trying to make it to the national tournament because we haven’t been there in awhile,” Odume said. “We were really close last year and we want to make it there this year.”

BASKETBALL

Means honored

for community service

Western Kentucky senior Chaney Means, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, has been nominated for the Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team.

The team honors student-athletes who stand out for their charitable achievements and community involvement. During her college career, Means took two mission trips to Haiti, participated in her school’s canned food drive and teddy bear toss and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, the parks and recreation after school program, the Camp for Courageous Kids program and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Means is one of 84 players nationally who are up for the honor, which will be bestowed upon 10 players later in February.

SOFTBALL

Neidigh on

all-conference team

Brookwood grad Jessica Neidigh was a first-team selection on the All-South Atlantic Conference Preseason Team released this week.

The junior second baseman, a first-team All-American last season, hit a league-best .457 (15th nationally) as a sophomore. Her 90 hits last season set a school record and upper her career batting average to a school-best .449.

FOOTBALL

Hinderleider on

honor roll

Stetson offensive lineman Alan Hinderleider has made the Pioneer Football League Academic Honor Roll for the fall semester.

The Collins Hill grad was one of three Stetson student-athletes with a perfect 4.0 for the semester.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.