Ty Rodgers continued his tear with Team USA on Tuesday night with another performance that should make Illinois basketball fans excited.
You don’t have to score a ton of points to be a great player. While some of the greats, like LeBron James, can put up the huge numbers in the points column, they also do everything else well. A complete all-around player is hard to find in the game of basketball, but that is what the Illini have with Ty Rodgers.
In the first game of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship, Rodgers put up solid numbers going for seven points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the 116-48 thumping of the Dominican Republic. Those all-around solid numbers are special, and he continued to build on those numbers against Ecuador on Tuesday.
Rodgers didn’t start against Ecuador, but he would still play 14:34 in the game. He would finish the night with seven points, eight rebounds, and six assists while shooting 2-of-3 from the field and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the charity stripe.
Ty Rodgers is an unprecedented player for the Illinois basketball program.
The game against Ecuador is the second time Rodgers has suited up for Team USA and played with some of the elite players from around the United States. The word leadership has continuously popped into my head as I watch him on the court directing traffic for the team.
As I continue to watch Rodgers pay, I think to myself, Illinois doesn’t have much of a precedent for this type of player.
The combination of size, speed, handles, basketball IQ, passing ability, and communication is quite fascinating to watch. Rodgers can post up in the paint, he can take the ball to the hoop and finish, he can shoot from anywhere on the court, and he can bring the ball up the court as a point guard. After doing all of that on the offensive end, he still puts in the effort on defense from pressing to his suffocating on-ball coverage.
As far as a comparison to someone who has played for Illinois in the past, I don’t think there is a good comp. I do think there is a little Ayo Dosunmu in Rodgers, though. Talent Horton-Tucker is someone Rodgers reminds me of as well. What Horton-Tucker does at his size is phenomenal. I also think about LeBron when I watch Rodgers purely based on being able to play just about every position on the floor.
Rodgers is a special player and each time I watch him play, I think that he probably should be starting for Illinois as a freshman. This kid is unique, and I love it.