The Journey of Rodney Culver< < Back to
He dribbles the ball behind his back, through the legs, and then levitates off the asphalt so smoothly, it looks like a businessman in an elevator. He grabs the rim like a plate on the highest shelf, and slams the ball through the hoop effortlessly. He hangs on the worn, metal basket for a few seconds, drops to the ground and asks,“Hey man, do you have to go home to get your haircuts?”
“Yeah,” I answer.
A bumpy bus ride back to his hometown for a fade and line up was not the only thing that drove freshman guard Rodney Culver away from Ohio University. In his words, “OU just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
The path a college baller takes after their high school career can lead them to greatness or to a pit full of “what if’s” and “why did I’s?” Rodney Culver is creating his own path. A path he hopes leads him to the recognition that he’s craved since his days at Central Ohio powerhouse Pickerington Central.
“Coming out of high school, I thought I was better than a lot of the guys ranked above me. I wasn’t happy with the offers that I was getting, so I decided to do a year of prep school.” Clearly the 6’5″ guard has always been about putting himself in the best spot career wise.
Dominating at Elev8 Sports Institute in Florida for a year would do Culver justice.
He showed the country a style of play that was amazing for his lanky anatomy. He could do it all. Offensively aggressive, defensively daunting, he’d block your shot, take the rock, put the ball on the floor and hit you with a move so hypnotic you’d need a pep talk and a water break to pick your spirits back up. Culver was a bad boy. Period.
His play captured the eye of Bobcat head coach Saul Phillips.
“We wanted him right away with his movement and length,” Phillips said, “but it was a long process and looking back, there may have been some uncertainty.”
Culver signed with Ohio, capping off a freshman class with real potential.
Now that Culver was a Bobcat off the court, he would have to prove he could be an asset on the court.
Entering the program as a highly touted recruit, Phillips wanted his new guard to lock down players and throw away the key, and Culver certainly wanted to make an immediate impact for the Bobcats.
“My expectations this year was to be one of the top freshmen in the MAC (Mid-American-Conference),” Culver said. “I wanted to help make the team better and them make me better.”
Culver wanted to show the school what he could do as soon as possible. Enter game two.
Culver came off the bench to help the Bobcats put away the scrappy Southern Jaguars. He finished with more than half the team’s bench points.
It was an impressive coming out party.
“I thought I played pretty good” he said with a smirk on his face.
Culver was the talk of the town after that game and he entered the starting lineup a week later.
Unfortunately, coaches and fans alike have a short memory and need to be consistently reminded of why a player is on the court. This was hard for the freshman, who was fighting a nagging shoulder injury. With performances that Culver described as “[he was] capable of better,” he had to frustratingly watch his playing time slide down a slippery slope.
“I just kept telling myself ‘I’m a freshman and I just got to keep working…something may change… don’t let the negativity affect you.’”
That only works so long though, and with two weeks left in the season and no signs of improved playing time, Culver knew what he wanted to do.
“I knew I wanted to transfer.”
Culver wants to set the record straight though, he really likes Ohio University.
“It was great here at OU. The coaching staff, my teammates and the students… this was the closest team I’ve ever been on and they always will be my brothers.”
So why is he leaving?
“He wants to play more. I’m disappointed because I would have loved to have a spring and summer with him and gotten him in the weight room. It would have been nice to finish that project.” Phillips said. “He’s going to be a fine player for someone… I wish him good luck.”
Phillips isn’t the only one who would have enjoyed to see Rodney stay in the green and white. Culver, Jordan Dartis, Jaaron Simmons, Gavin Block, and Mike Laster would have made a terrifying backcourt in the near future.
But while that could be great for the Bobcats, it would ultimately hurt Culver. “Four years can fly by if you don’t capitalize…I just want to bring energy, passion and versatility to my next squad.”
Luckily for the Bobcats, no possible landing spots for Culver are in the Mid-American Conference. “I’ve talked to UNC-Greensboro, IPFW, Valparaiso, Arkansas State and a couple Jucos,” he said.
But if their were any match-ups with the Bobcats in the future “it would be just like practice.”
Culver left the South Green basketball court up and headed up the morbid Morton Hill. Something I bet he won’t miss, but he will miss “the people, [he] created some of the closest relationships he’s ever had.”
Culver’s story is not over, though. In fact, this is just the prequel.