SCHENECTADY — While many student-athletes make their collegiate decisions official in a gymnasium, library or school lobby, Schalmont basketball standout Shane O’Dell saw his driveway as a fitting place to sign his national letter-of-intent.
“It was nice,” the 6-foot-6 senior said Tuesday afternoon outside of his home on Princetown Road in Schenectady. “This is where I put in all my work. This is just as good.”
With schools currently closed due to the coronavirus, athletes like O’Dell are making adjustments.
“It was my coach’s idea,” O’Dell said as his family and a handful of friends mingled in the driveway. “Yesterday, he said, ‘Let’s do something at your house.'”
So there O’Dell sat and signed with The College of Saint Rose, at a table in the driveway, situated beneath the basket he and his older brothers Zac and Jesse had filled with so many shots. After the brief signing ceremony, the siblings took a few more.
“What better place to do it?” Schalmont coach Greg Loiacono said. “He spent most of his time here putting in the work that got him a scholarship.”
The 18-year-old O’Dell will play at Saint Rose on a full athletic scholarship, for head coach Mike Perno.
“I’ve always liked the coaches there, and I like the winning culture,” O’Dell said. “I want to win an NE-10 championship. I don’t really have a lot of personal goals.”
Daemen College and Saint Rose made offers to O’Dell, and the three-time Daily Gazette All-Area first-team selection had conversations with New Hampshire, Colgate, Vermont, Davidson and Saint Anselm while also considering a prep school stint.
“They’ve liked me since I was a sophomore,” O’Dell said of Perno and his staff. “They were at all my games and even came to 6 a.m. workouts.”
Saint Rose is getting this year’s Section II Class B tournament most valuable player and the Colonial Council’s two-time MVP. O’Dell averaged 27.9 points and 18.7 rebounds as a senior.
“They’re getting a guy who doesn’t like to lose a drill,” Loiacono said. “He doesn’t like to lose anything.”
O’Dell was the central figure during Schalmont’s first Section II title run in 24 years, and capped it by delivering 22 points and 18 rebounds when the Sabres defeated Mechanicville 53-46 for the top Class B spot after consecutive runner-up efforts in 2019 and 2018. In a 75-63 regional semifinal win over Ogdensburg Free Academy that followed, the guard/forward piled up 37 points and 16 rebounds to push his four-year career totals to 2,028 points and 1,001 boards.
Schalmont’s season ended before its regional title game, a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He’s not just a shooter. He’s not just a post-up guy,” Loiacono said. “He is a mismatch nightmare.”
O’Dell had games this season with 45, 41, 40 and 39 points. In five playoff games, he averaged just over 30.
“I am going to work out every day,” O’Dell said. “I want to get better, stronger, faster.”
Zac O’Dell played four seasons of basketball at Swarthmore, and Jesse O’Dell has played two at SUNY Polytechnic. Shane O’Dell’s mom, Val, and dad, Jim, also played collegiate basketball.
“We’re a basketball family, so this was a big deal,” Val Higgins-O’Dell said.
Ballston Spa senior Keegan Zoller, this season’s Suburban Council Player of the Year, has also committed to Saint Rose.
“I am excited for him. I am happy for him,” Shane O’Dell said. “He’s very good.”
“Saint Rose will be able to sell a few more tickets with Shane, Keegan Zoller and Adam Anderson [junior from Saratoga Springs],” Loiacono said. “That’s a nice local contingent.”
Shane O’Dell said his recruiting process was slowed a bit when he missed the AAU season with the Albany City Rocks after his junior year due to a high ankle sprain.
“It hurt a lot because no one got to see me play,” he said. “And having our season canceled late in the playoffs hurt, too.”