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David Roddy’s Road Less Traveled

June 25, 2022

I like to write. I wish I could write poetry but that was always a skill/art that escaped me.

You’ll never see me turn a phrase like Keats “Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

I’ll do my best to capture David Roddy’s career at CSU as seen through my eyes. My words may not be a work of art but will be my best recollection of those three years that David has spent in Fort Collins.

I first saw David in the summer before his freshman season at CSU when I attended a summer workout. Those of us who follow CSU Basketball were made aware of him during the recruiting cycle and I, like my others, was elated when he announced that he would be attending Colorado State over schools like Minnesota and Northwestern.

The Rams had beaten out two Big Ten schools for the services of what was a very talented three-sport athlete. He had chosen to leave his hometown University of Minnesota and he had turned down a fantastic school in Northwestern. It became obvious to me that this was a unique individual who was mature enough to recognize an opportunity to do something more than play basketball.

It was obvious he was interested in building something bigger than himself.

Which is saying something because David was an immense man child when I first laid eyes on him. 18-years-old with a some baby fat. But the athleticism was apparent in his movement. I remember thinking it was only a matter of time before he would make the transition from prep player to Division 1 player.

Summer workouts prior to freshman season

Unlike fellow freshman and roommate Isaiah Stevens, David did not crack the starting lineup immediately. But he did deliverable a memorable performance in just his second game, a roadie at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Roddy would produce a 12 point, 6 rebound, 2 assist game in just 21 minutes. Including a memorable steal near halfcourt followed by a thunderous dunk. Yes the Rams were blown out that day but it was obvious to anybody watching that Roddy belonged. It only took two games.

And I can remember meeting up with players, coaches and fans in the Cameron lobby post-game. There was David who was gracious enough to have his picture taken with my wife.

David in the Cameron lobby with my wife Robin

Next to us, Assistant Coach Dave Thorson’s phone was absolutely blowing up with text messages from other coaches around the country.

Thorson is a legendary coach from Minnesota and he was the main driver behind Roddy coming to Fort Collins. He was like a proud papa that night as the messages kept pouring in praising the exploits of Roddy in the toughest of college basketball environments.

It would take 11 more games before Roddy would crack the starting lineup. Senior Kris Martin graciously accepted his move to 6th man and Roddy’s ascension was accelerated. In that first start against Tulsa, David delivered his first double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in a memorable 3OT thriller against Tulsa.

Freshman year post-game photo

The 2019-20 team would go on to win 20 games and finish 11-7 in the MWC. CSU would have played in a post-season tournament had COVID not ended it.

Fast forward to the 2020-21 season. Three seniors gone in Nico Carvacho, Kris Martin, and Hyron Edwards. The sophomore class led by Roddy and MWC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Stevens would have to grow up immediately. CSU would have to replace the nation’s leading rebounder in Carvacho. Roddy would somehow have to pick up that slack.

The coaching staff recognized the unique abilities of Roddy and devised a small-ball lineup that featured Roddy at the center position where his speed, power, and vision could be exploited as a scorer and ball distributor.

COVID robbed the team of a meaningful out of conference schedule and also robbed fans of seeing in person the leap that Roddy was making. I was fortunate enough to witness it first hand that season as a member of the media

I can remember a bunch from that season but three moments really stand out.

The first was CSU’s extraordinary comeback in Viejas Arena against conference kingpin San Diego State. Having trailed by as many as 26 points, the Rams would somehow find a way to get their noses in front on a John Tonje 4-point play with about 12 seconds remaining.

The lead was a tenuous 68-67.

And there was Roddy in the end, switched defensively onto Aztec star Matt Mitchell (the 2021 MWC Player of the Year). Mitchell made a move down the left toward the hoop, Roddy walled up perfectly, the shot missed, the Rams rebounded. After a pair of free throws, the Aztecs attempted a long Hail Mary and Roddy intercepted it like a strong safety covering the middle of the field (did you know he played football as a prep?).

The second great memory that season was a late game sequence where UNLV’s star Bryce Hamilton had a chance to score a gamewinner. UNLV ran a set and Roddy was switched onto Hamilton. As the clock ran down, Roddy was all over Hamilton, keeping him on the perimeter rather than letting him move into then paint. At the end of the clock, Hamilton was forced into a long perimeter jumper which Roddy blocked. It would have led to a dunk at the other end but the refs blew it down for a shot clock violation. The Rams went on to win.

The third moment was in Logan, Utah against Utah State. The Rams were in a close one late in the second half. They missed a shot but somehow Roddy’s athleticism allowed him to move nearly 20’ to rebound the ball. He calmly made a pivot move, examined the floor, and noticed Adam Thistlewood wide open on the opposite side. Thistlewood would drain the three and CSU would leave with a victory.

And Roddy in that sequence would show the leap he had made in his sophomore year from young bull to complete player.

CSU-Boise State Pre-game During the COVID year

The Rams would once again win 20 games and finish 14-4 in the MWC. They barely missed on an NCAA Tournament bid and would advance to the NIT semi-finals. Roddy would be named First Team All-MWC.

Roddy was on the national radar now and much was expected for hs junior year. I stopped by a summer practice and talked off-the-record with David about his future and what his thoughts were regarding CSU and turning pro.

He was very candid. He made it clear that he had zero interest in ever exploring the transfer portal for a different and seemingly better opportunity at a bigger name school. Bottom line is that he absolutely loved his coaching staff and teammates at CSU and loved the culture. He basically said in so many words, “Why would I leave something so good at CSU for an unknown situation anywhere else?”

He also talked about exploring the NBA after his junior season but made it very clear that if he didnt have a strong guarantee from the league, that he would return to CSU.

David’s third and final season at CSU was a dream season. So many great moments but I only need to describe a few which highlight the development that had taken place between his sophomore and junior seasons.

The first was an early season tournament game against Big East power Creighton. Roddy would go on to deliver a career high 36 points that game but it was how he got it that was the story. 7-10 shooting from beyond the three-point line! He had been a 25% shooter from the perimeter in his first two years. All of 15 makes his freshman year and 20 makes in his sophomore year. And here he was making 7 in one game and making it look easy. He would go on to shoot 44% for the season and 48% against top teams.

Then came the home game against St Mary’s. CSU was in the process of blowing the game wide open in the second half. Roddy was leading the small ball lineup. CSU got the Gaels spread out and Roddy showed off the ball handling skills he had developed over the summer as he put his defender on skates on his way to a thunderous dunk.

And then a low point.

First a brutal home loss to UNLV. The Rams had lost two in a row and a dream season had shown its first crack.

David was disconsolate as he sat with his mom after the game. I walked by, put my hand on his shoulder, and said some kind of stupid platitude. It probably fell on deaf ears to David but his mom was kind enough to acknowledge it.

Darcy and David Roddy

After that game, the Rams headed to Laramie where they lost a tough OT game. David had a chance to win the game with a pair of late free throws but missed one of them, allowing the game to go into OT.

A season now on the edge but the perfect opportunity for Roddy’s leadership skills to emerge.

David led the Rams on a 9-1 tear over the next 10 games. Roddy delivered night after night. In that stretch drive he averaged 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 blocks.

It was that stretch that launched CSU into the NCAA Tournament as a 6-seed.

For his exploits, Roddy was named to the All-MWC for the second time and became the second Ram to be named MWC Player of the Year.

I didnt get a chance to talk with David after the first round NCAA loss to Michigan.

I did get a chance to spend some time with him at the basketball banquet in April and we talked primarily about his next steps in exploring a move to the NBA.

David with my wife Robin at the 2022 basketball banquet

He talked about the process of going to Phoenix to begin workouts and then the combine. But more importantly, he reiterated his commitment to CSU. He made it clear that if he didnt have a strong indicator that he would be drafted into some kind of contract guarantee that he would return to CSU.

He produced strong measurables at the combine. He received poor reviews in the combine games but those games are meaningless. Zero chemistry, zero teamwork. Scouts have already seen you play countless times in real game situations. “Draft Experts” put way too much into those combine games.

So when Roddy announced that he was foregoing his senior season and had signed an agent I knew that David had received some kind of assurance that he would be selected in the first round or early in the second round and guaranteed a contract. Mock drafts had him all over the place but those guys are just guessing.

I mentioned to a former D-1 coach that I’m sure David had some kind of guarantee. That coach thought Roddy had made a big mistake, that he wasnt NBA-ready, that if a guarantee wasnt written, it didnt exist.

It was my belief that some smart NBA organization would take a look at Roddy’s body of work over his three years at CSU and examine the development that took place over those years. That trajectory has been remarkable. From raw bull trying to transition to D-1 as a freshman. To incorporating his speed, power, and vision into his contributions on the court his sophomore season. To adding strong shooting skills and ball handling to his repertoire and translating them onto the court. Add all this to high character and competitiveness.

I knew sooner of later that David would build himself into an NBA level player. I believed he would somehow make it into the first round. I didnt know if it would be after his junior year or senior year.

But I knew that there would be at least one smart organization and it turns out that it was the Memphis Grizzlies.

And so I am sad that I will no longer be able to watch him play at Moby. But I am ecstatic that he has taken that next step in his young life toward his goal of playing in the NBA.

It was exciting on draft night when David’s name was called. It was exciting to see photos and videos of David with his family, coaches, teammate after he had been selected.

Its exciting to know that David is the highest pick out of the Mountain West since Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison in 2018. Its exciting to know that David is the youngest MWC player selected in the first round since UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn in 2015.

But to me the most important thing is laid out in this video where David talks about coming to Colorado State. It is a heartfelt and emotional look at the path he took to achieve his dream. Not the orthodoxy of taking the offer from the highest visibility school but one of finding coaches and culture that will allow you to develop at the highest level. Here’s that video.

And while I can’t pen a poem of my own, I leave you with this classic. No other words are necessary.

The Road Not Taken 

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan Carpenter permalink
    June 26, 2022 12:37 am

    You captured Roddy’s essence. I wish you had chosen to be an English teacher. We could have been buddies for years. Thanks for this remarkable trip through the last three years.

  2. Mark Miller permalink
    July 7, 2022 2:59 pm

    Steve thank you so much for sharing. I have had this sitting in my browser for a week or so. I wanted to make sure I could take the time to read it all. Just a fantastic journey and a great tribute to a wonderful person and player. Coming from a wonderful one!

    Cheers!

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