By Nate Puciato
Darnell Rogers, the son of Lake Clifton legend and former professional basketball player Shawnta Rogers, has been on the move for a majority of his life but once again finds himself back home in Charm City with the UMBC men’s basketball team.
During his childhood, Rogers spent time bouncing between the United States and France as his father balanced a professional basketball career overseas with life back in the States.
“I was back and forth between Baltimore and France,” Rogers said on Glenn Clark Radio June 20. “Around when I was 9 years old we moved to Charlotte [N.C.], but we were still going back and forth from Charlotte to overseas.”
“First time going to an American school was when I was in third grade,” he added.
Due to watching his father play at a high level on a regular basis, something rubbed off on Rogers as he learned the game from a very young age.
“I always thought my dad was a big deal since I was 3 years old,” Rogers said. “I used to always pay attention to the games when I was younger, when I was overseas watching him play. As long as my mom gave me some candy and some juice, I was always tuned into the game.”
Later on in life, Rogers would bounce around even in high school, playing at Indian Land High School (S.C.), before transferring to Shiloh High School (Ga.), where he finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,776 points).
However, while basketball was and has always been a top interest for Rogers, it isn’t necessarily his first choice for sport.
“I like football and soccer more, honestly,” Rogers said. “I really thought I was going to be a football player up until my freshman year of high school. I started getting really good, and then the high school I went to, we weren’t that good at football. … I was like yeah, ‘I’m just going to stick with basketball.'”
Sticking with basketball proved to be a good call, earning him a shot with Florida Gulf Coast University, where he was listed as the smallest Division I player in the nation at 5-foot-2 and 150 pounds. He transferred after one season to New Mexico Junior College for more playing time.
Following a season during which he averaged 14.0 points and 3.7 assists with the Thunderbirds, Rogers found himself transferring back home to UMBC. Playing in his hometown and for head coach Ryan Odom was appealing to Rogers. Odom has had success coaching undersized guards before such as former Retriever K.J. Maura (5-foot-8).
“He has a lot of success with undersized guards,” Rogers said. “He’s a coach that wins; I want to be a part of a winning program. That’s what he brings, and he has a lot of good players there that I’m going to be playing with.”
“I’m just looking forward to teaming up with them and winning some championships,” Rogers added.
The players he can look forward to teaming up with include rising senior guard K.J. Jackson (12.8 points, second-team All-America East last year) and senior forward Arkel Lamar (9.3 points).
While there are certainly high expectations for the Retrievers coming off a 21-13 season and appearance in the America East championship game, all Rogers wants to focus on is performing in front of his hometown.
“It definitely means a lot to me,” Rogers said. “I haven’t been able to play in front of the city in a while and I’m looking forward to doing that.”
For more from Rogers, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Courtesy of FGCU Athletics