CLIFTON PARK — Given his first break of a busy summer from playing AAU hoops, Schalmont rising junior Shane O’Dell found time to fit in some more basketball.
That made sense to Greg Loiacono, O’Dell’s high school boys’ basketball coach with the Sabres.
“He just loves basketball,” Loiacono said of his star player.
O’Dell jumped into action Wednesday with his high school teammates for the final night of the Shen Varsity Summer League and displayed the all-around game he is becoming known for as a Division I recruit. At 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, O’Dell jumped center and defended forwards on defense, while he played point guard on offense and showed off a solid perimeter jump shot.
“He’ll just do whatever it takes to win,” Loiacono said.
Coming off a breakout sophomore campaign, O’Dell spent a large portion of his spring and summer playing on the perimeter for the Albany City Rocks’ 16U team in the Elite Youth Basketball League. O’Dell missed AAU season last year with a back injury, and connected with the highly touted City Rocks this year after a sensational showing in the Section II Class B postseason tournament.
“So this was my first summer doing all that,” said O’Dell, who played with the City Rocks in tournaments in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Kansas and Virginia. “It took me a while to get used to it, but once I got into it, I got used it.”
O’Dell averaged 24.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.8 blocks per game while leading Schalmont to the Section II Class B championship game during his sophomore season. The 16-year-old said he was able to use his time playing with the City Rocks to elevate his own game and learn where he needs to improve.
“It was really exciting, honestly,” said O’Dell, who also is the quarterback for Schalmont’s football team. “The competition at the tournaments was crazy and the atmosphere was just different.”
O’Dell is one of the Capital Region’s top rising basketball stars. He has already received a scholarship offer from the University at Albany and has generated interest from a handful of other programs, including Siena College.
“After I got the first offer, that was a big stress reliever,” O’Dell said.
With two years of high school basketball ahead of him, college interest is likely only to grow in O’Dell. He missed a portion of his freshman season dealing with back issues — “It was just because he was growing so fast,” Loiacono said — but starred throughout his healthy sophomore campaign.
“This is the progress we saw him making,” Loiacono said of O’Dell, whose older brothers Jesse and Zac are each set to play Division III college basketball this upcoming winter.
While more and more athletes tend to favor specializing in one sport, O’Dell said he intends to keep playing football for Schalmont. He is excited about that season, but also already looking forward to basketball. After falling to Mekeel Christian Academy in the area championship game, O’Dell said the Sabres have worked out together this offseason with one goal in mind.
“Getting back to the sectional championship and winning it,” O’Dell said. “That stung when we lost.”