Raleigh's Johnson-Odom helps team win $1 million, named The Basketball Tournament MVP

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Thursday, July 16, 2020
Raleigh's Johnson-Odom helps team win $1M, named tournament MVP
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Raleigh's Darius Johnson-Odom helps his team win $1M, named MVP of The Basketball Tournament.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tuesday night, a group of Marquette University alums became the latest to capture the "TBT," aka The Basketball Tournament. The MVP? None other than Raleigh's own Darius Johnson-Odom.

"I think it gave not just us but everyone watching a sense of security. A feeling that we haven't felt in a while," Johnson-Odom said. "And that's just for anybody who loves sports."

It doesn't get much more cutthroat than a format where the winners split a million bucks and everyone else goes home empty-handed.

"It's a certain kind of focus that you've got to have for those types of games," Johnson-Odom said. "Of course, you're going to be nervous. It's for money, it's for a million dollars. I can't tell you how heart-wrenching it is. Every possession just matters that much more."

DJO as he's known, said life in the tournament bubble in Columbus was like being back in college.

"Everybody leaves their door open. We're just going around, going in everybody's room just to see what's going on," he said.

Just one thing -- you had to keep a bag packed at all times

"Every game you have to pack your stuff because if you lose, you have to go to a new hotel," he said. "You're out of the bubble."

For DJO, winning MVP hasn't opened any NBA doors, but he said the honor will make for more opportunities overseas.

"I am working with China, so those did open up," Johnson-Odom said. "This tournament is a caliber of high-level players. Guys who've had NBA experience, high levels of Europe, so for me it was just a great honor just to be playing."

For now, though, he is back home in Raleigh with his daughter and already planning to defend the title with his teammates.

"That's the joy of being a champion. You always get the chance, you're going to be the champ until someone beats you," he said. "So, we have to defend our title."

Johnson-Odom's share of the $1 million prize was $90,000. Not bad for three weeks' work.