“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is stained with dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who is wrong, who fails again and again, because there is no effort without error and without fault.
David Roddy was the man in the arena that Teddy Roosevelt has been talking about a lot lately.
It’s the last day of January and the Colorado State forward (or guard or center, depending on the day) is at the free throw line with less than two seconds left and a chance to win the game in a rival showdown against Wyoming. The 6-foot-6, 255-pound “freight train,” as one former trainer described it, stands in line with a wry smile on its face, staring at a hoop 15 feet away with rowdy students from the Wyoming right behind the basket.
The first hit? Rustling. Draw.
The second slaps short at the front of the rim. Over time.
Roddy fouls midway through extra time, calls an offensive foul while backing up his defender. The junior immediately pulls his jersey in his face in disbelief. Wyoming scores the next seven points of the game and wins, 86–83, with Roddy on the bench.
Just three days later, Roddy is back in the arena. His Rams took a 20-point second-half lead in front of a sold-out home crowd in Fort Collins, Colorado against San Diego State, a team that beat CSU by 30 points in early January. His team is now trailing by one with less than 15 seconds left. Roddy collects the ball which has just crossed the net to put his team behind by one, quickly penetrates it and sprints on the ground behind point guard Isaiah Stevens.
Roddy is in the right place at the right time. Stevens loses control of the ball as he gets inside the arc, but he gets straight to Roddy. Roddy collects, raises and shoots.
Nothing but net.
One defensive stop later, and the students who filled Moby Arena are on the field celebrating with the (literally) big man on campus.
The next day, Roddy posts a photo of the touching moment. The legend ? “The man in the arena.”
David Roddy was designed to be the man in the arena. His muscular thighs and chiseled calves stand out the first time you see him in a gym. His broad shoulders seem well equipped to wear football pads (which they once did). His dark eyes seem to be able to stare through you when he gets into a defensive position. He can sprint the length of a basketball court in four seconds, like he did in the Wyoming game to earn those late-game free throws. He can throw his body into the paint with crosses. He can cross you on the dribble like a leader. But most importantly, Roddy was brought to compete– in everything he does. Basketball happens to be his focus right now.
Roddy’s father, Pierre, remembers the time in second grade when he received an A+ on a test, then presented it to the whole class and exclaimed, “That’s how we enter a DI school!” Roddy grew up with four older brothers, all of whom were athletes, which certainly fueled his competitive spirit. By the time he arrived in high school at the Breck School in suburban Minneapolis, Roddy was a three-sport star: an all-state quarterback at 270 pounds, a Mr. Basketball runner-up, and a state champion in throwing. disk.
His success left him with options…and some persistent skeptics. Most college scouts for both football and basketball had never seen a player like him. Basketball coaches didn’t know what to do with a 6-foot-6 center built more like a defensive lineman than a hoops player.
“Everyone looks at him and says, ‘He should be a football player,'” says Dave Thorson, a former Colorado State aide who recruited Roddy to CSU. “They looked at the height and said, ‘He’s too small to be a top five man. “”
During this time, football coaches were interested in Roddy, but usually to play positions other than quarterback. “We went to Iowa and sat down with the defensive line coach,” Pierre recalled. “’Why are we in the defensive line room, coach? This kid is a quarterback!”
In the end, he had to make a choice: football or basketball, sports he still says today “love”.[s]as well.” Roddy made his choice based on relationships, ones that are more easily forged in basketball’s more personal recruiting process than in soccer, a sport where most teams will send out hundreds of offers per year.
“I haven’t really had close ties with [football coaches],” he says. “It was kind of a cookie cutter, letters in the mail and not a lot of phone calls.”
It was the opposite in basketball, where Thorson fell in love with Roddy early in the recruiting process and didn’t rest until he could secure a commitment.
“Almost every day, [Thorson] contacted me, texted me, multiple times. It was almost overwhelming at times,” he laughs.
Thorson was there all the time…even at football games. Whatever it took to get Roddy signed.
“These coaches love him,” Roddy’s dad says. “Thorson showed places when he had nothing to do.”
His stock continued to rise in his final AAU season playing with Minnesota powerhouse Howard Pulley. He got major offers from Northwestern and Minnesota and seemed to get better every weekend. Thorson and CSU head coach Niko Medved sat courtside as Roddy dominated at the summer’s final event in Las Vegas, growing more enamored and more nervous all at the same time.
“I’m sitting there with Niko and [Roddy] was about 35 [points], threes and dunks,” says Thorson. “We both looked at each other and were like, ‘How the hell are we going to get this guy? “”
But CSU’s persistence and the relationship Medved and Thorson built with Roddy paid off. When Roddy called Medved to commit in the fall of 2018, the coach ran off the road and yelled.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Medved says.
Once Roddy arrived on the Fort Collins campus, his development took off. For the first time in his life, he was concentrating on a single sport. And not only that, he was able to take his experiences as a footballer and competitive athletics and apply them to the hardwood. One big area that shone was his playing ability, which he attributes to his time as a quarterback.
“In high school, we watched a movie about football and we understood where the defense would go. It’s very similar now, except there are only five guys on the field,” Roddy says. “I can see the field very well and ‘open up guys’. ‘My ability to play is directly correlated to my quarterback experience.’
A player that some varsity coaches classified as an undersized center began to unlock some point guard skills. In his second varsity game against Duke, Roddy came off the bench and played all five positions. The Rams were hammered by 34 points against an elite Blue Devils team, but Roddy scored 12 points, caught six boards and dished out a pair of assists in a game that started to prove CSU had more than a simple big man in his hands.
Roddy averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds as a rookie to earn all-conference honorable mention honors, then exploded to the first team in 2020-21, averaging nearly 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. But it wasn’t until his junior season that he perfected the final facet of his game: three-point shooting. In his first two seasons at CSU, Roddy shot a combined 23.4 percent from beyond the arc. This year, he’s shooting a remarkable 50% from deep (on 64 attempts), the sixth highest mark in the nation, according to KenPom. The most notable indicator of his improvement as a shooter came at Paradise Jam in November, when Roddy went 7 for 10 from three as part of a 36-point outburst in a declaration victory over Creighton who remains the one of CSU’s best resume wins.
“There was a moment with him in the game against Creighton where it’s just, you saw him go to another level and a light bulb that went out,” Medved said. “There was no hesitation. There was just this zen moment.
Now that teams have to carefully keep Roddy at bay, there’s not much you can do to stop him. He can create with the ball in his hands in pick-and-roll, drill threes with ease, score postups, attack in transition and distribute. His 255-pound frame makes him too strong for guards and wings to guard against, and his athletic brilliance and skill level make life difficult for big men who venture to the perimeter to compete against him. That’s why Roddy was recently named to the Wooden Award’s end-of-season top 20. And even NBA evaluators are beginning to notice.
“It’s a pretty unique perspective,” said an NBA scout. “Once you let go of your preconceived idea of positions and the more you watch it, the more you like it.”
Success for the Rams followed. The year before Roddy arrived (Medved’s first season at CSU), the Rams went 12–20. They won 20 games in Roddy’s freshman year, won 20 more and fell one game away from a Mountain West title with Roddy in sophomore year and are now 18–3 and on the right track. path for a general offer in 2021–22. CSU is on track for a third consecutive 20-win season, the first time the program has accomplished such a feat since 1989-90. With Roddy and Stevens on the Bob Cousy Award watch list for best male point guard in college basketball, the Rams are a team that can’t just make the NCAA Tournament, but win a game or two during his stay.
Coincidence? Not according to those who know Roddy best.
“You could pull out your measuring stick and say, ‘Oh, he’s a football player.’ No he’s not. He’s a winner,” Thorson said. “Whatever he chooses to do, he’ll do it very well.”
So Roddy will continue to be the man in the arena. And more often than not, he will emerge victorious.
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