Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Over the years, a lot of basketball talent has come out of Saginaw, Michigan — high school sophomore Ty Rodgers has ties to more than one of the most recent NBA success stories. Rodgers, a wing in the high school class of 2022, is a cousin of current Indiana Pacer, Brian “Tugs” Bowen II. His uncle, Jason Richardson, starred at Michigan State and went on to become one of the NBA’s most consistent scorers between 2000 to 2010. The athletic genes don’t end there — his brother, Will, is an NFL prospect playing defensive lineman for Washington State. Claiming that this family has incredible athletic pedigree would be an understatement.
Now pushing six-foot-seven, Rodgers has grown over the past year and is probably still not done. Throughout the quarantine, he has been working out with a current NBA player in his cousin, Bowen II. He is down to earth, though has a fire and huge expectations of himself when it comes to basketball: already an All-State player in Michigan, himself, Rodgers is also chasing the coveted Gatorade Player of the Year award — a major challenge in itself, but an extra tall task considering fellow 2022 prospect Emoni Bates (2020 National Gatorade Player of the Year) is about 100 miles down the road in Ypsilanti. Nevertheless, the required drive, passion, work ethic, and humility was evident in Rodgers throughout his interview with Pro Insight.
Rodgers is very strong, especially factoring in that he’s only recently turned 16. He has a knack for slashing, can finish above the rim and shows some ability to create off of the dribble. With continued skill development, he should be looking at getting offers from Michigan’s highest institutions. He has been recently offered by Ohio State and Marquette, with interest reaching the national level.
In this interview, Rodgers talks about his training process, his background in several other sports, his outlook on the G-League developmental program, his experience with USA Basketball, managing expectations in the social media era, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Ty Rodgers, from Saginaw, Michigan:
Pro Insight: Talk a little about your background.
Ty Rodgers: Yeah, I’m from Saginaw, Michigan. I have two siblings, a younger sister, she’s 10 [years old], she plays a little bit of soccer and basketball. Then I have an older brother, he’s 21 [years old], he goes to Washington State, he plays defensive end. My parents both work for the state of Michigan: one is a probation officer [father] and one works for Children’s Protective Services [mother], so yeah, that’s a little bit about my family.
PI: How was your brother's season at Washington State? Is he a future NFL prospect?
TR: Yeah he had a good season this year. He redshirted his freshman year so he’s going to be a senior this year, but I feel like next year he has a pretty good shot at getting drafted. I think he might have led his team in tackles this year, so he had a good year for sure.
PI: Do you play any other sports? Have you played any other sports in the past?
TR: Yeah, well I just play basketball now, but in the past I played football. I was pretty good at football, it was kind of boring to me though, like practice and stuff like that so I let it go. I still run track a little bit, more just for working out and stuff...I work out with the track team, I don’t compete in events, but I work out with the team, I’ve been doing that for a while. I used to be on the swim team, I stopped doing that my freshman year because it was interfering with basketball season, but yeah I still do that in the off-season to help me stay in shape. I played soccer all the way up until 5th grade, then I stopped playing soccer. I played baseball for a couple years when I was younger, but it was just kind of boring, so basketball has always been that thing for me.
PI: What positions did you play and what events did you do?
TR: So for football I was pretty much all over the field, I played WR, RB, DE, and a little bit of TE. In track I ran the 400m, I was a 400m runner. For swimming I would do the 100m free-style, that was my thing, the 100m free-style. In the 400m, my fastest time was like 55 seconds...I was alright, I was pretty fast.
PI: When did you transition over to full-time basketball?
TR: Yeah, starting freshman year I transitioned over to all basketball to just focus on my craft.
PI: What do you love most about the game of basketball?
TR: It definitely just isolates me from everything else that’s going on...there can be stuff going on at home or in the world, but once I step on the court everything leaves my mind and I’m strictly focusing on the game of basketball. So it’s just really unique to me and I love the game.
PI: For those who aren’t super familiar with your game, what are some of your greatest strengths?
TR: I would say my biggest strength is my versatility, I do it all: pass, score, play defense. I feel like defense is one of the biggest things because you don’t really see that from a lot of guys these days. So yeah, definitely my versatility, just being able to do everything.
PI: What about some things you still need to work on?
TR: Well I’m still trying to improve everything about my game. I feel like you can’t really just focus on one area I feel like you need to improve everything, because if you just focus on one area then I feel like you’ll start lacking in a different area. So really just everything, my jump shot, handles, on-ball defense, help-side defense, everything.
PI: What would you say is most underrated about your game? In other words, what do you think you don’t receive enough credit for?
TR: I would probably say my ability to handle the ball. I feel like I’m going to get straight to the point — I’m not going to waste all of my energy doing moves, I’m going to get right to the bucket. I feel like I can really handle the ball and most people don’t really realize that.
PI: With things shut down due to COVID-19, what are you doing to stay ready?
TR: Luckily for me, my older cousin is Brian Bowen — he plays for the Indiana Pacers — he’s in town because he’s from Saginaw, too. He has a key to a little church gym so I’ve been working out with him. So I feel like I’m ready if the game were to come, if we were to play today. I’ve been working out a lot every day, just getting up a lot of shots with him and doing a lot of pro workouts...so yeah, definitely preparing me.