February 7, 2005
Imagine. You are a hotshot high school basketball player who is starting to get serious looks by college recruiters.
You have a good junior season and have worked hard to get into top shape for the summer AAU tournament and summer league circuit, which is a critical make-or-break time for those lucky few who hope to advance to the next level.
All of the sudden, you suffer an injury. The phone calls and letters slow to a crawl and once the word gets out you become the recruiter instead of the recruit. With a little luck and a lot of perseverance, perhaps you can find the right situation where a coach will give you a chance to show what you can do.
That's exactly what happened to Ethan Rohde.
After suffering a broken elbow in June following his junior season at Sammamish High School, the sharpshooting guard remained in close contact with Santa Clara University head coach Dick Davey after contacting the Bronco coaches following his sophomore season.
Having a reputation as one of the West Coast's top teachers and coaches of the game, Davey made it clear that a scholarship to Santa Clara was not, at that time, an option but that Rohde could enroll in the school and try to walk-on the team.
"Coach Davey was up-front and honest with me," said Rohde, who played AAU basketball as a prep for a Seattle/Tacoma, Wash-based team called Fastbreak. "He said that if I was planning to come to Santa Clara just to play basketball, it probably wasn't the wisest decision. I'd been interested in Santa Clara for a variety of reasons and basketball was just one of them, although it was right near the top of the list.
"It really is a tribute to Ethan's character that he has achieved as much as he has at Santa Clara."
Senior guard Kyle Bailey.
Rohde arrived on the Mission campus in the fall of 2000 and promptly began working out with the team. But, with a number of players at his position, it was clear that he wasn't going to get much playing time so he and the coaches decided that he would sit out the season as a redshirt.
"That first year at Santa Clara was tough," said Rohde. "I really didn't feel like I was a big part of the team. Nobody really knew my story, nor did they seem to care to find out. Then, I had ankle surgery and I tried to play through it. I knew I could play at this level and I wanted to continue to give it a shot."
After using the summer to heal his injured ankle and work on conditioning and strength, Rohde returned for his second season with a new outlook. He earned some playing time as a reserve guard and led the team in three-point percentage, shooting over 45 percent from behind the arc.
However, the turning point came in Rohde's sophomore season. With Steve Ross losing an appeal for an additional year of eligibility and fellow backcourt mate Kyle Bailey playing just six game due to foot and back injuries, the coaching staff looked to Rohde to provide much of the team's backcourt production.
He started 25 of 27 games that season, scored 9.1 points per game and shot over 41 percent from behind the three-point line. His season highlight was a 22 point outburst in the win over Princeton, which earned him MVP honors in the annual Cable Car Classic at the Leavey Center.
"I think my most memorable basketball moment here at Santa Clara was earning MVP at the Cable Car Classic," said Rohde. "After the game I was speaking with (former SCU walk-on guard) Dustin Warford and he said there was no way in the world a walk-on could ever receive that honor. I was really excited to have had such a good game and to earn the award. I'll always remember that."
Following that sophomore season, Davey called Rohde into his office for an annual post-season evaluation. He thought he'd played well that year and was feeling pretty good about the outcome of that meeting. His hard work and dedication paid off when the outcome was Davey informing him that he'd earned a scholarship.
"I think the thing that made me most proud was knowing that I was being recognized for all the hard work I'd put in as well as for my ability," said Rohde. "Earning a scholarship meant that I had earned the respect of my teammates and my coaches. Certainly, it was also great to be able to financially help reward my parents for making the commitment to send me to such a great school."
The scholarship offer was bittersweet, however, after an abdominal injury kept him sidelined during the entire summer before his junior season, his first as a scholarship athlete. Rohde was unable to do any physical activity throughout the summer months and reported to campus woefully out of shape.
However, he was cleared to practice in time to join the team for preseason drills in mid-October and ended-up playing in 31 games and starting 17. His three-point shooting dipped to just over 34 percent as he was no longer an unknown on opposing teams' scouting reports. However, he's worked hard to establish himself as a key player throughout his SCU career.
As a substantial outside threat, Rohde is one of the best shooters in the West Coast Conference, which compliments Bailey and Doron Perkins' creative, slashing style of play in the Broncos' backcourt.
"With the arrival of Doron last season, I was really focused on playing my role of taking the outside shot," said Rohde, who takes nearly 80 percent of his field goal attempts from behind the three-point line. "He and Kyle drive to the basket a lot and look to kick it back out to me on the outside. That really eliminates the need for me to try to drive inside. I'm more of a shooter and I know I can hit the deep outside shot. Hopefully, that helps give us more offensive threats in the game."
One area of his game that has vastly improved hasn't escaped the notice of Davey and the coaching staff - his defense.
"Ethan has really become a solid defender," said Davey, who is the third-longest tenured Division I coach in the state of California. "He has worked hard and he has a great attitude. He is a guy who serves as an inspiration for his work ethic and has become more versatile than just being a shooter."
A finance major, Rohde has been a member of the WCC Academic Honor Team twice and should earn the honor again this season. He consistently maintains over a 3.2 grade point average and exemplifies the term student-athlete. As a 3.8 prep student, Rohde fits right into the SCU academic culture. But, he quickly notes that the strength of the university is a unique blend of academics and real-life experiences.
"I think Santa Clara is an extremely good place to get an education, both from an academic perspective and as a person," said Rohde. "The school seems to really care about the individual and it helps you grow in a lot of different ways. I have really grown a great deal during my five years here and this university has had a lot to do with that."
Among the classes that Rohde mentions as has helping shape both his academic and personal growth was a theology of marriage classic he took recently. He credits the course's teacher, Fr. Robert Brancatelli, as having a great deal of influence in his academic and personal time at SCU.
In his fifth year at SCU, Rohde is poised to become one of the top three-point shooters in Bronco basketball history. He has made nearly 40 percent of his long-range attempts, which puts him near the school mark of .401 by a farly successful guard named Steve Nash. Rohde's career three-point attempts and makes are also among the top-five totals in school history.
Not bad for a guy who was the recruiter instead of the recruit.