Rydeiah Rogers reaching for ring
When the Rogers sisters play one-on-one, it never goes well for Rydeiah Rogers, a 6-foot-1 junior forward at Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) and a Super 60 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz rankings for the 2015 class.
In well over 100 contests -- full of bumps, shoves and trash talk -- Rydeiah has never managed to beat her big sister Roddreka, a sophomore forward at Georgia Tech.
Rydeiah says her sister has a size advantage, but that's not Roddreka's only weapon.
"[Roddreka] has long dreadlocks, and when she does a spin move, [the dreads] hit me in the face," Rydeiah said.
Saadia Timpton, a 5-8 senior shooting guard at Myers Park who has signed to play at Davidson College next season, has witnessed the Rogers sisters do battle. Two years ago, when Roddreka was a Myers Park senior and Rydeiah was a freshman, they often went head-to-head in practice.
"It got physical," Timpton said. "But everybody got hit by [Roddreka's] dreadlocks. ... It hurt sometimes if you weren't expecting that to happen. It was like getting whipped in the face."
Timpton and Rydeiah agree that Roddreka made them better. And now the duo is hoping to do what Roddreka did not -- lead Myers Park to a state title. On Saturday, Myers Park (29-1) will play Southeast Raleigh (26-2) for the Class 4A title on the campus of NC State in Raleigh.
This is the first trip to the state final for Myers Park, a school that was established in 1951. And a lot of the credit goes to Rydeiah, who averages 16 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
A long, hard road
Reaching state hasn't been easy for Myers Park -- or Rydeiah.
She grew up near Phoenix, Ariz., with her sister, her mother, Tisa, and her brother, 10-year-old Rodney Rogers II.
The children's father, former Wake Forest and NBA standout Rodney Rogers, relocated to Durham, N.C., after he and Tisa divorced.
But on Nov. 28, 2008, Rogers, who was a 6-7, 235-pound bruiser of a forward in his playing days, was paralyzed from the shoulders down after his dirt bike hit a ditch, and he flipped over the handlebars.
Back in Arizona, Tisa gathered the girls and broke the news about their father.
"We both broke down crying," Rydeiah said. "I couldn't believe it."
Rydeiah, who grew up riding four-wheelers and small motorcycles since age 10, hasn't been on one since.
Another change came when Tisa told the kids the family was moving back to North Carolina, where she grew up, so that they could be closer to Tisa's father who was ill at the time.
Rydeiah resisted the move at first because she wanted to stay near the friends she had made in Arizona.
"But now I'm happy," Rydeiah said. "I met a lot of new people."
Rydeiah said she loves her father and added that their relationship hasn't fundamentally changed since the accident. But because of his physical limitations, she is not sure if he will be able to make it to Saturday's state final.
Arne Morris, who coaches Rydeiah on her AAU team, the Garner Flames, said there are a lot of similarities between Rodney Rogers, who was once known as the "Durham Bull," and his daughters.
"Rodney was as thick as Roddreka and as quick as Rydeiah," said Morris, who added that both girls have worn their dad's old number, 54, on the Flames. "Rydeiah is not as strong. But she is stronger than she looks. She has broad shoulders, and she's bouncy. She has long arms and gets a lot of and-ones."
Rydeiah's nickname is "DD." She got that moniker because she had a hard time pronouncing "Deiah" when she was little.
Timpton, her teammate at Myers Park, said the girls sometimes call her "Dainty DD" because she is such a finesse player.
"The way she moves on the court, it's almost like she's dancing," Timpton said. "She's faster than some of our guards."
Myers Park coach Barbara Nelson said Rydeiah is a "special" player.
"She's a beast inside," said Nelson, a former head coach at Wingate University, a Division II school in North Carolina. "She anchors our rebounds and the back of our 2-2-1 press. She gets a lot of steals in that role -- very athletic."
Nelson sees Rydeiah as a face-up power forward in college. But she also sees her expanding her game with the possibility to play small forward in the future, adding that Rydeiah has the ability to shine at an ACC school like her father and sister.
Interestingly, though, Rydeiah has received little recruiting interest so far from her sister's school (Georgia Tech) or her father's alma mater (Wake Forest).
Instead, Rydeiah said she's received a strong push from NC State. She is also considering Virginia Tech and Florida State.
"I've still got a long way to go before I decide," said Rydeiah, who has a 3.0 GPA. "I will probably sign late in my senior year."
In the meantime, Nelson has Rydeiah run point-guard drills in practice as a way of developing her perimeter skills. Rydeiah shoots 3-pointers in practice, although she is extremely reluctant to do so in games, at least so far.
Nelson said Rydeiah has excellent timing on her shot-blocks and can get those deflections without fouling very often.
That was evident in Myers Park's most recent game -- a 54-46 regional final win over rival Ardrey Kell. She had 10 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks, earning MVP honors as Myers Park used a 22-0 run in the first half to subdue Kell.
So now it's on to new ground and Myers Park's first trip to the state final.
"Making history feels great," Rydeiah said. "But it will feel better to finally have a ring on my finger."