Last fall FGCU made a huge recruiting splash when they picked up a commitment from a dynamic prospect out of Charlotte, N.C. Known for his phenomenal dunks and oustanding athleticism, Rayjon Tucker became the highest rated signee in program history. The Eagles are once again looking to add a distinguished recruit and exciting playmaker out of Charlotte - Patrick Rooks.
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard graduated in 2013 from Charlotte Christian School, just a half hour down the road from Northside Christian Academy - where Tucker attended.
“I haven’t [played against or with him], but I know a lot of players in Charlotte that do play with him and have heard a lot of good things about his game," Rooks said. "He’s an explosive player, he’s a big guard. I’ve heard he's really good and have seen his highlights so I’m impressed."
The two Charlotte products could potentially be playing together in the near future though, as Florida Gulf Coast has offered Rooks and made him a high-priority target in the class of 2016.
Originally signed to Clemson out of high school in 2013, Rooks redshirted his freshman year with the Tigers due to surgery on a serious hip injury. After playing sparingly in 2014-15, the sharpshooting guard transferred to Chipola College in Marianna, Fla.
“We started off good and then got into conference and went through some adversity, but we’re working hard in practice trying to get everything to how it first started," Rooks said of the Indians (13-10, 0-5). "Pretty confident about how we’ll finish up in conference."
Rooks is averaging 16.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game with Chipola this season. Known as a fantastic three-point shooter, he's shooting at nearly a 40% rate from beyond the arc this year and took home NJCAA Region 8 Player of the Week honors in December after a 30 point performance against powerhouse Daytona State.
“The biggest thing for me going from D-I to JUCO is everything is happening more free lance in JUCO, like the style of play," Rooks said. "Don’t get me wrong now, the players in JUCO can hoop, they can go. Just organizational wise, that’s been my biggest adjustment."
Florida Gulf Coast has witnessed Rooks' prolific scoring rise throughout the year. The Eagles are enthused about Rooks' potential fit in Fort Myers and were in to see him during open gyms prior to the season and went to a few of his games as well.
“They like the fact that I can shoot the ball. It would cause the defense to come out on me and would let other players get open on the court. They like that style of play in my game," said Rooks, who also mentioned an FIU offer and interest from ETSU, Cincinnati and Florida. He plans to visit FGCU following Chipola's season.
The ability to pour it in from outside and stretch the floor is not a foreign notion for Rooks and Charlotte Christian School. Graduating from the school in 2006 was Stephen Curry, 2015 NBA MVP and the league's top long-range shooter.
“He is like a God walking around there. When he comes in, he gets respect from everybody," Rooks said. "Everyone really looks up to him and what he does for the community, and what he’s doing for the NBA."
“I love competing so it was a competition for me. I tried to shoot outside as well I could. I worked at it everyday so it was competition. The stakes were high. Hopefully we’ll be playing together one day," Rooks continued.
This competitive spirit has powered Rooks throughout his career and leaves him optimistic that Chipola can overcome their 0-5 start in conference.
“Personally I’m just going to do whatever I can to help my team win. If that means I have to shoot the ball, if I have to drive and penetrate and kick out, whatever the case may be," Rooks said. "You gotta do whatever you gotta do as a team to come together and win games. That’s what it boils down to get to a national game."