Southern Auto

Is that Odell Hodge?

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: March 28, 2009
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March 28, 2009

Odell Hodge, from Rich Radford's Blog on March 26, 2009

Before the Monarchs took the court for their noon shootaround in preparation for their game against James Madison tonight at 7 p.m., the sound of a basketball bouncing around in an empty Constant Center could be heard.

Investigating the noise turned up a familiar ODU face: Odell Hodge.

He was in the place shooting with his two sons, Matthew, 4, and Jayden, who will turn 2 next month. Just to warn anyone going to tonight's game, these kids have some serious curly blond hair.

Hodge was knocking down bank shots and watching his little ones launch air balls, all the while having a big ol' time.

Gracious as always, he sat down and gave some minutes. His handshake reminded just how powerful he was and still can be. Third on ODU's all-time leading scoring list with 2,117 points and third with 1,086 rebounds, the question is asked often: When will Hodge's No. 33 be retired and hang from the rafters at the Constant Center? But that wasn't one of the questions asked on this occasion.

"I'm still playing over in Belgium," he said. "It's been 12 years now, not all with the same team. But it's been good."

Hodge plays for Basketball Bree these days. He married Sofie Ceyssens, who has a brother, Jochen Ceyssens, who plays for the Sint-Jan Basket Antwerp team. Bree is in first place in the D2 standings at 22-3, Antwerp is hot on their heels in third place at 17-7.

And ODU fans will love this: Bree's colors are silver and blue.

It's a small world we live in, but sometimes I find it to be very big. I'd never heard of Bree, Belgium. Then, within moments of Hodge informing me that's who he plays for, Kim Clijsters announces she's coming out of retirement and wants to play in the U.S. Open. Her announcement comes from Bree, Belgium.

But back to Hodge.

Hodge will very likely be sitting behind the ODU bench tonight. He said his wife had gone on the internet -- Hodge had returned to Martinsville, Va., on a mini-vacation and was visiting his family -- when the fact that ODU would be playing at home tonight popped up on the screen.

"Sofie offered it up as a birthday present," said Hodge, whose 36th birthday is today. "It's ODU and JMU. I couldn't miss it."

Then again, Sofie might have seen this as a perfect opportunity to sneak off to MacArthur Center and do some shopping.

"I can't keep up with her when she shops," Hodge said. "She wants to look at everything. She told me to pick her back up at the mall at 4."

Sofie is 5-foot-9. The doctor has already told mom and dad that Matthew will likely be "somewhere between 6-10 and 7-foot."

If ODU wins tonight, they'd travel to Bradley to play on Tuesday in the final of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Just mentioning Bradley brought back bad memories for Hodge, who played for ODU the last time ODU faced Bradley.

"We got robbed by the officials in that one," Hodge said.

ODU lost 79-75 at Bradley. Hodge had 25 points and 11 rebounds that night. It was 1994 in the second round of the NIT.

Hodge would love for his school to get another shot at Bradley.

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