Seton Hall basketball fans saw it from Jared Rhoden throughout his four-year college career. There was the loose ball he wrestled away from two UConn players with the clock ticking down. There was the late-game takeover in a must-win against Xavier. There was the backbreaker 3-pointer he swished at Butler as a sophomore.
Rhoden has tenacity to spare, but even by his standards, the display over the past three months was remarkable.
The 6-foot-6 wing willed himself from fringe pro prospect to an NBA free-agent contract. He signed with the Sacramento Kings early Friday, a few hours after the NBA Draft ended, according to ESPN. Details of the deal were not immediately available. It’s the latest stop in a meteoric rise for Rhoden, who turned a spot in the Portsmouth Invitational into a spot in the G League Combine, and then used that to springboard into the NBA Combine.
“I came to Seton Hall as a three-star recruit and earned everything I got,” Rhoden said earlier this week. “I know I have to prove myself. Carrying around that underdog mentality has gone a long way, and it’s what helped me in this process. ”
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Always a solid mid-range shooter, Rhoden opened pro doors by shooting well from 3-point range throughout the pre-draft process. He also received high marks at the combines for his physicality, conditioning and team-oriented play.
What is his new team getting in Rhoden?
He was a three-year starter, helped the Pirates achieve three NCAA Tournament seasons, and as a senior earned first team All-Big East honors after averaging 15.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
He’s a versatile defender and vocal leader who wears his passion for winning on his sleeve. He exudes confidence.
“I might not be the top dude on mock drafts, but I will be one of the few that has a long NBA career,” Rhoden said earlier this week. “Ten to 15 years from now, you’re going to see me on a roster still.”
More proving grounds lie ahead. Rhoden will have to earn a spot on the roster, starting with a strong performance in the NBA’s summer league. But he’s got a foothold – a franchise invested in him and willing to give him an extended look.
His arrival on this stage is a boost for Seton Hall. Two head coaches can say they had a hand in Rhoden’s arrival on this stage. Current Pirates skipper Shaheen Holloway discovered him as a prospect and recruited him to the Hall. Kevin Willard, now at Maryland, developed him into an All-Big East standout.
Rhoden spent draft night in low-key fashion with his parents and sisters at the family’s home on Long Island. Earning this kind of opportunity, he said Wednesday, “would just be amazing for me – as a boy who had that dream, and now as a man who can fulfill it.”
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.