It's well-known by now that Dominique Rutledge, who has committed to West Virginia's basketball class of 2011, went from his home high school to Edison Job Corps Academy to Hutchinson Commmunity College to Miami Dade College to Western Texas College in the span of less than five years. What's less known, though, is that he views those travels as a strength.
"I have traveled to different parts of the country, and it has helped me become a man," the well-spoken Rutledge said after finalizing his college commitment. "I've grown up a lot, and that's due to being in different places and having these different experiences. I love traveling and meeting different people and getting to know them."
Resumes such as Rutledge's are often looked at with a jaundiced eye by many hoops observers. Bouncing around is almost common nowadays, but when that's combined with NCAA qualifying issues out of high school, there's an automatic assumption that some sort of problem exists. However, in this case, it may be that appearances are deceiving.
In even a short interview, Rutledge addresses those "issues" in a straightforward manned, and describes how he has used them to his advantage. Much of that has been the maturation process he has experienced on his different stops, but he's also managed to turn another potential negative into a positive.
"I didn't play at Western Texas this year, because I had already played at Hutchinson and Miami Dade," he explained. "But I think I got better by being able to watch games and watch what other players did. I practiced all the time, and I have worked on other parts of my game."
Out of the prep ranks, Rutledge was a solid post-up player, but since that time has moved his game away from the basket. This inside-out learning of the game has helped him become a much more versatile player.
"I think I can cause mismatch problems," he analyzed. "When I started playing I was in the post, and I can play with my back to the basket. In junior college, I played the three, and that helped me with my ball handling and my mid-range game. I can guard wings and forwards, and I love the way Coach Huggins uses players of my size."
Also well-documented by now is Rutledge's desire to play in the Big East conference -- a wish that was sparked by his location in the middle of league territory as well as an association with one of WVU's all-time greats.
"I watched Da'Sean Butler (another Newark native), and I actually played with him for a year on the same AAU team," Rutledge said.
Rutledge had interest and offers from several Big East schools during his prep and juco career, including Pitt, Marquette, Seton Hall and St. John's, but his final connection to the league didn't happen until he made the move to Western Texas State to practice and complete his associate degree.
"West Virginia really started recruiting me after I came out here," he said. "Coach Larry Harrison tracked me down through my previous junior college, and he came out to see me and evaluate me."
Needing another athletic player who could rebound, defend and score in the mid-range, West Virginia then made an offer to Rutledge, who was quick to snap it up and complete his Big East dream.
"I will make a visit to West Virginia soon – I'm getting that set up now," he said. "I am finishing up 11 hours now, and I have one class in May to finish, and then I plan to move on to West Virginia."