Chris Rodgers informed the Wildcat coaching staff on Wednesday that he was going to declare for the draft but not hire an agent. Although rumors of his unhappiness have abounded every off-season since he has been on campus, the staff was a bit surprised that the Portland native was going to try the pros.
"Not really," assistant coach Josh Pastner replied when asked if the coaches knew Rodgers was seriously considering the move. "There were some little clues here and there, but to be honest we really didn't know until he told us yesterday."
The move comes as a bit of a surprise. Rodgers started just four games last season, averaging 5.5 points and 2.1 assists a game. Rodgers was a key defensive stopper off the bench playing just over 19 minutes a game.
Rodgers has a load of talent, but is still a work in progress according to Lute Olson.
"He needs to be quicker with the shot...catch and shoot," Olson said. "Chris still has a little bit of carryover from high school of never taking a shot unless the ball is on the floor first.
Rodgers has never been content with his role on the team. He came out of Portland's Wilson High School as a five-star recruit and the nation's fifth ranked point guard. He came in as part of the recruiting class with Andre Iguodala and Hassan Adams. While both Adams and Iguodala were seeing significant time as freshmen, Rodgers was a little used reserve. The next year both Adams and Iguodala were starters while Rodgers was used as a top reserve off the bench.
Despite not being a polished product, Iguodala was able to go pro and Adams was being touted as a potential All-American. Meanwhile, Rodgers was still seen as a reserve heading into the 2004-05 season.
His role on next year's squad is not guaranteed either. If he returns to school he'll be in stiff competition with sophomore Jawann McClellan for the starting off-guard spot.
Despite not having a guarantee of a starting spot, Pastner believes that Rodgers will explore his options and realize that he's better off staying in school.
"I'm not a betting man, but I bet you he'll be back in the fall of 2005 in a Wildcat uniform," Pastner said. "I truly believe you'll see Chris on this team next season."
Rodgers is not without his share of baggage. He was suspended for a game in January for what was described as a "me first" attitude following the Wildcats' win over Washington.
Olson said after the season that he expects Rodgers to be a team leader, but that he needs to improve those skills if he is going to help the team.
"He needs to be a leader on and off the court," Olson noted. "He needs to improve the amount of time as senior that he is providing that type of leadership. Working on helping others pull together for the good of the team chemistry."
Attention now turns back to Adams. Adams has not officially announced whether he will test the waters or return for his senior year but both Olson and Pastner feel that Adams will be back for a fourth year.
"There's been no word on whether he is going," Pastner admitted. "In the end I think he'll be back as well."
As of now no draft projections have Rodgers as a viable prospect. Several sources have indicated that Adams would most likely be selected in the second round but there is almost no chance for him to be selected in the first round with a guaranteed contract.