basketball Edit

Coach's corner: Akeem Odusipe

The newest Vanderbilt Commodore is Akeem Odusipe
The newest Vanderbilt Commodore is Akeem Odusipe (

Akeem Odusipe became the newest Vanderbilt Commodore on Wednesday. He might not be a household name in Nashville yet, but two-hundred miles to the east he has carved out a niche as a dominating big man.

The 6-foot-9, 220 pound center was a key piece in Knoxville Catholic going 25-4 this past season and winning the Division II-AA State Championship. He was also named First Team All-State earlier today by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.

Catholic Head Coach, Michael Hutchens, has been with with Odusipe every step of the way for the past three years. Knoxville was a huge part of the trek for the high school senior between Nigeria and the West End, and Hutchens was kind enough to walk us through the process and left Commodore fans know what they can expect.

Q: How has he progressed from the time you started coaching him to now? Did he look like a Southeastern Conference player when you first saw him?

Hutchens: "When he came to us, obviously with his size and athleticism, I watched him for ten minutes and could have told you that he had a chance to be a Power Five player. Especially at the end of his junior year and the biggest part of this whole year he has shown vast improvement. His ball-handling has improved. We put him in the middle of our press break. He's a really good finisher, and he can run like a deer. He will automatically be one of the fastest players that Coach Stackhouse will have. So he's a rim runner and a rim protector. We played a little bit of zone and we would always put him right in front of the goal. Akeem could guard big guards too, and we would do that with him. We would put him on guards in certain games, and have him defend big guards. he can defend guards and posts both."

Q: People I have spoken too say the first thing that is noticeable about him is that he has a heck of a motor on him and he plays hard.

Hutchens: "He plays really hard. That is something he has improved on. He got into a lot of foul trouble his junior year. He was so aggressive, and we were always constantly talking to him about keeping his hands straight up. Block the shot with your hands straight up and don't come through and take away verticality. He got into a lot of foul trouble like that. But this year he did not. He only fouled out of a couple of games all year. A big improvement was his defensive IQ. It has really come along. We probably played ninety-five percent man."

Q: What is his offensive skill set right now?

Hutchens: "I played him a lot with his back to the goal. We ran the ball down inside a lot because we had another kid that was right at seven-feet. But he competes and has some really good moves around the goal, in the paint. He can play with his back to the goal, but the big improvement he has made offensively this year is he's starting to develop a medium range jump shot. When he can hit a twelve to fourteen footer an you have to step out, he is so quick to the basket that he can put the ball on the floor and attack."

Q: How do you see him game relating to college and how good do you think he can be?

Hutchens: "Right now he is such a tremendous rebounder, shot blocker, and rim protector. When you can rebound and play defense, you're going to have a chance to contribute. He can finish on a break, and he's only going to get better offensively. If he gets to the rim he is going to finish. He did it against the big boys. He had a really good game against IMG. So he'll be fine."

Q: How is he in the screen and roll game. Coach Stackhouse likes to do that a lot with his bigs.

Hutchens: "We do a lot of that because we have B.J. Edwards at point. We ran a bunch of high ball stuff and he is good at it. If you run that and you kick it off to him one-on-one, it will be hard stop him."

Q: What about off the court in the locker room and in the classroom?

Hutchens: "He's a great kid. He gives us no trouble. He plays basketball and he goes home. It's been his goal all along to get to this point. I know that sounds like coach speak, but we've had no trouble whatsoever. He's mild mannered and a kind person, kind hearted. He's just a really good kid."

Q: Even before this you talked about a high basketball IQ, and now how good he is in the classroom. It sounds like he is a kid who could pick up the game on the college level pretty quickly.

Hutchens: "Yes sir. The more he plays the better that IQ gets. He soaks stuff in. I was really pleased with him defensively. That's the hardest thing for any coach is to motivate kids defensively. He takes it as a challenge. He's going to do well defensively."

Q: Do you think he is under the radar a little bit? Sometimes when a kid isn't in the top fifty or doesn't go to Montverde or Oak Hill they don't get the attention they deserve.

Hutchens: "I don't know if he's really flown under the radar. He's had an awful lot of offers. But we only have one newspaper here in Knoxville, and for whatever reason they don't do much local coverage. He did have good numbers on the AAU circuit. I wouldn't say he is under the radar, because he did have some really nice offers. He just didn't get to make any visits this spring because of the virus. He only had one visit to Rhode Island."

Q: What did the Vanderbilt coaching staff they liked about him and how they are thinking about using him?

Hutchens: "I talked mainly to Coach (Faragi) Phillips. They came to the State Tournament and watched him. He had double figure rebounds both games. His motor, his ability to rebound, guard, and play defense I think caught their eye. He averaged a double-double in the State Tournament."