‘Hometown favorite’ is drafted into WNBAPublished 10:01pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013
As Georgetown University and former King’s Fork High School basketball star Sugar Rodgers anxiously awaited her selection in Monday’s WNBA draft in Connecticut, many of her friends and loved ones were doing the same here in Suffolk.
A notable group of supporters gathered at the Applebee’s on North Main Street to watch the Women’s National Basketball Association draft on television. Though Rodgers’ selection came later than the group would have liked, a cheer went up around the restaurant as the Minnesota Lynx used the 14th overall pick and second pick in the second round for the local guard who is Georgetown’s all-time leading scorer.
“I was just excited, full of joy and happiness, just to know that my hard work paid off,” Rodgers said Tuesday.
Earlier Monday night at Applebee’s, Rickeda Fofana said, “Watching her be able to climb and get to where she is, her hard work, her dedication — she did it all.”
Fofana coached Rodgers from the ages of 12 to 14 on the Blazers, an Amateur Athletic Union team, and sees her as like a daughter after Rodgers began staying with the Fofanas five years ago, when she was a senior at King’s Fork.
Fofana’s husband, Maurice, who is the current girls’ basketball coach at King’s Fork, suggested having the gathering at Applebee’s to allow more people to come.
“She’s a hometown favorite, through high school, through college,” he said, indicating those in attendance. “So, all of these are friends.”
Ransheda Jennings, Rodgers’ best friend, was excited to watch the girl she played basketball with from middle school through high school step onto the professional stage.
“She was a beast on the court, and it’s paying off. All the hard work she put in is paying off now,” she said.
King’s Fork basketball fans were present along with employees from the school, like athletic director Randy Jessee.
Rodgers progressed through high school without her mother, who was deceased, her father, who was not in her life, or her siblings, who had been jailed at the time. Jessee spoke to what it was like to see her get drafted in light of these circumstances.
“It’s a very big honor, and it’s also very good for the school, the community, but just for our young people to see somebody like Sugar, who went through a real tough time, and show what she can do, not just athletically, but what she’s done academically at Georgetown and turned into a fine young lady,” he said.
Rodgers thought she would go earlier in the draft, but found the number of her selection particularly fitting.
“I went 14, I wear (the jersey number) 14 because my mom passed on July the 14th,” she said. “So, yeah, it means a lot to me. To go 14, it just was meant to be.”
Rickeda Fofana said she knew the wait was hard for Rodgers, but noted that Minnesota is “a great team. It’s not a bad position for her to be in.”
“I’m with the Lynx, and I’m excited about that,” Rodgers said. “I get to play with stars like Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson.”
Acknowledging that being drafted does not guarantee her a position on the team, she said her first goal is to make the team and “just go out there and give them my all.”
The Fofanas had been hoping that Rodgers would be drafted by a closer team so they could watch her games, but Rickeda was undaunted by the distance.
“It’ll be hard, but we’ve got to go, we’ve got to do what we can,” she said.