Athlete of the week: Zac O’Dell ʼ20

Zac O’Dell ʼ20, the 6-foot-7 forward from Schenectady N.Y., has been a key contributor to the Garnet men’s basketball team in their historic season. O’Dell has had standout games against Middlebury — one of the best teams in Division III — and more recently against Haverford, where he scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Garnet knocked off Franklin and Marshall in a well-attended scrappy game this past Saturday to clinch home court advantage for the Centennial Conference playoffs. Swarthmore will host Ursinus in the conference semifinals this Friday at Tarble Pavilion. If Swarthmore wins, the team will take on the winner of Johns Hopkins and Franklin and Marshall in the final on Saturday. We hope to see everyone at the game!

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what are your plans following graduation at Swarthmore?

Zac O’Dell: I am in the process of becoming a biochemistry Major and a psychology minor. As for plans after Swat, I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I would like to go to graduate school, I think.

PP: What got you into basketball as a kid? How did you find out about Swarthmore in the recruiting process?

ZO: Both my parents played basketball in college, so I’ve really enjoyed both playing and watching the sport for as long as I can remember. Before being recruited, I had actually never heard of Swarthmore, but after I went to a basketball camp at Columbia during my junior summer, Coach Landry reached out to me, and I fell in love with the school.

PP: What have been some of the highlights from this season?

ZO: I would say the trip to Middlebury College is one of my favorite highlights from the season. All the guys had a blast on the overnight trip, and we finished it off by beating a top tier team on the road.

PP: How would you describe the fan support at Swarthmore for the team, and has it improved over the last year?

ZO: Since I’ve been at Swarthmore, the fan support has been unbelievable. I’ve only lost two or three games at home in my two years here, and the fan base is a key factor in that. As a team we love seeing the campus coming out, getting wild, and supporting the team. It’s really a lot of fun for everybody.

PP: What was the senior game against Franklin and Marshall like? Did the team appreciate the fans who came out to support?

ZO: The senior game versus Franklin and Marshall was a lot of fun. Swat versus F and M always feels like a rivalry game, as both teams have been at the top the conference since I’ve been here, and beating them on Senior Night and clinching home court for the playoffs made for a very fun win. The team loves all the fans that come out to support — it definitely makes a difference with them there, especially in close games like Senior Night.

PP: How important is home court advantage for the team going into the playoffs?

ZO: Home court advantage is huge for the playoffs. As a team we get to go through the same routine we always do getting ready for home games, which helps us out a lot. The fan base is also another important factor. For fans to be getting dressed up in wild outfits and then come be loud at the games puts the energy and momentum in favor of us from the very tip.

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