Catching up with SouthLake’s new hoops coach Rodney Monroe
by Chris Hunt
After three seasons, former N.C. State University basketball star Rodney Monroe is leaving his post as the Lake Norman Christian boys basketball coach to take over as Director of Basketball Operations at SouthLake Christian Academy.
With the Eagles, Monroe will oversee boys and girls basketball programs at the high-school and middle-school levels, although he will only be the head coach of the boys varsity squad.
At N.C. State, Monroe was the 1991 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer before playing 14 professional seasons in the NBA and overseas.
Monroe recently sat down with The Herald Weekly to talk about his new job and his vision for the program.
Q: So why did you take the job at SouthLake?
A: I took the job at SouthLake because I believe that it’s a great opportunity. But not only that, it was a tough decision that I prayed about and took me a couple weeks (to make). I went out and talked to a few different pastors and some friends of mine to make the decision.
I see it as a ministry. It’s a part of a basketball ministry. Of course SouthLake wants to have a good basketball program, and I believe I can help them in that direction. It’s also a part of a diversity ministry. I believe SouthLake could use more diversity at the school. I am pretty sure they don’t have many African-American teachers over there, so I think that’s part of my ministry.
Another part of it is, because it’s a private Christian school, I’m able to speak about Jesus Christ to the kids over there anytime I want. I’m not restricted by the state of North Carolina teaching at a charter school or public school. I see the move as something God called me to do, so that’s why I took the job.
Q: What are your expectations for the program?
A: My expectations are to build the best program possible and do it the right way. I want to win games and win championships. I hope SouthLake wants to win games and championships, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s all about getting to those kids and teaching them the game of basketball and how to be men. Hopefully, they’ll be better off after they leave SouthLake for college or (go) into the community.
Q: On the court, what will be your coaching style and how will your team play?
A: At first look, I always want to go up and down – I like a transition game. I like to play an open game, and I like a pressure defense. I think that way of play is more fun for kids. It’s more fun to play that way than a slow-down type of game. But it all depends on what kind of players you have. But I really do like to get up and down, shoot (3-pointers) and defend the 3-pointer and press full court.
Q: How will your professional playing experience help?
A: Well, playing pro ball for so long, playing in college and high school (allowed me) to be coached by some pretty good coaches. I kind of took a little bit from this coach and that coach and (added that to) the type of things I like to do on the basketball court. We will get out and play hard. That’s the biggest thing for me – you have to play hard. You have to give 100 percent.
We are going to teach the fundamentals of the game of basketball. (With me) playing professionally for so long, the players are more likely to listen. They feel like I know what I’m doing. They trust that you can get them to the level they need or want to be. (It’s) just the experience of the game: what to do in the fourth quarter; what to do when the game is close or on the line. (People might think), ‘Will he call the right plays when we need a basket?’ All those things I went through really will help.
Q: What will be your biggest challenge taking this new job?
A: Any time you go to a different surrounding, different team, different facility, different people, the biggest challenge is to get everybody on board. I’m not actively recruiting players out there, but new players might come in, and the biggest challenge would be to get those kids to gel together and try to put a good team together.