POWELL, Ohio -- We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what’s wrong in our life, or we can focus on what’s right.
This is a quote from Marianne Williamson, and for soon-to-be senior Ben Roderick, a lot was going right.
The 2019 wing from Olentangy Liberty was having a monster junior season. He was averaging a Central Ohio-best 24.3 points per game and high-major programs like Ohio State and Xavier were beginning to take notice.
He also scored his 1,000th career point against his rival high school Olentangy, the first player in Liberty history to do that.
But in the fourth quarter of that big game, everything changed.
While running a set play where Roderick takes the ball from the wing and drives to the basket, he was flipped over the defender and was injured. He wasn’t certain at the time of the extent of his injury, but he’d soon find out.
“I didn’t think much of it because I tried to come back in and play,” he said. “I knew there was something wrong because every time I tried to run I just couldn’t and later I went to the doctor and found out that I had a torn ACL.”
Roderick’s big season came to an abrupt end, and it’s prevented him from playing AAU with Nova Village and will possibly prevent him from playing football in his senior season.
Just months removed from setting the school record for most points in a season at 430, and earning First Team All-Central District and First Team OCC Buckeye, Liberty’s superstar was going to have to find a new way to lead his teammates from the sidelines.
All of this resonated with Roderick after the injury, but he chose to perceive it as a blessing in disguise.
“At the time I was really frustrated because I kept wondering why it had to happen to me,” he said. “But now that it has happened to me, I don’t want to say it’s a good thing but being away from the sport has allowed me to really appreciate it, and now I’m going to actually take the time and truly enjoy it with my teammates.”
The return back to form has already started for Roderick.
While he likely won’t be able to start playing again until September, he has been working on his game by getting stronger and focusing on other areas that may have been weaker.
“I’m hoping to showcase that while I’m still the player I was before, I’m more mature and physically stronger and can start to run the team and really take over,” he said. “Before the injury the best part of my game was outside shooting. Now that I’ve sat back and learned the game more and I’ve been getting more physical, I feel that I can be really strong driving the basketball and getting to the foul line.”
In an offense that is predicated on spacing and attacking the basket, Roderick does believe that he can showcase his abilities that he’s tried to model after NBA players D’Angelo Russell and LeBron James.
“D’Angelo Russell is a lefty like me and has the swagger to him and can pull up or drive and finish,” he said. “Since I was a little kid though, I’ve wanted to play like LeBron, where I can get teammates involved and assist them while also taking over when I need to.”
Even though the injury my slightly change his game, Roderick is hoping that colleges will still like what he has to offer.
The game before his injury, Roderick had his breakout moment on the big stage. Playing against area power Dublin Coffman in the Jared Sullinger Play By Play Classic, Roderick absolutely dominated, going for an effortless 30 points in a statement win for the Patriots.
That afternoon, Ohio State and Xavier just so happened to be in attendance, which introduced a shift in Roderick's recruitment. The wing's versatility and dominant scoring stood out to both programs in the conversations Roderick had with them following the performance.
While major injuries may hurt the stock of some prospects, fortunately for Roderick, his recruitment has not been majorly affected.
Ohio, Toledo, Akron and Holy Cross, among others, have also continued keeping in touch with him to make sure rehab is going well and mentally he’s staying strong.
“They’ve kept checking in on me which I feel is really important because sometimes it feels like you’re all alone in this but really you’re not,” he said. “The torn ACL is a killer for recruiting obviously but I still feel that they are interested because I think I’m still the player that I was, today.”
Even during the low points, Roderick has kept a positive attitude.
He knows college basketball is only a year away, and he’s excited to likely go study sports marketing because of his love for sports, but his true excitement and positive attitude comes from getting to play one more year with his teammates.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the court with my teammates because all I care about is getting to play one more year with them,” he said. “We’ve been playing together since 4th grade and I love playing with those guys and miss it every single minute I’m on the bench.”
His teammates are only a small collection of people who have been with him throughout this process.
“I want to thank everyone for keeping me in their thoughts and prayers and I want them to know I’ll be okay and when I come back I’ll be better than I was before,” he said.
For something that went very wrong, Roderick has found only positives, which can only help him during his return.