I'm well aware that many of my colleagues will take exception to hyping a 6th grader, but Rodrick Caldwell, a 5'1 PG from Westwood Middle School in Dayton, has the type of special qualities that begs to be written about. Yes, Caldwell is a highly skilled point guard who can light up a score board (I saw him put up 49 points in 2 games this weekend), and yes, he handles the rock better than kids twice his age (he has all the dribble moves and can get to the paint at will), and yes, he has command of his team (he almost single handily willed his team to a championship on Monday), but it's the way he approaches the game that makes him so special.
What do I mean by "special?" From what I saw this past weekend, and what I have heard from others since then, the kid has a great attitude and his understanding of the game is beyond his years. I love to see a kid who loves the game so much that he/she can barley keep from smiling on the court. In an age where so many kids want to be "hard," and appear angry at the world when they play, Caldwell appears to be having fun on the court as he goes about destroying his opponents. Let me be clear, Caldwell will try and dominate you on the court to get his team the win, but he has a healthy attitude about it and he appears to enjoy himself while doing so.
Along with his healthy attitude (his nickname is "smiley"), Caldwell's poise and basketball IQ are a few of his major strengths. He just seems to understand the game, and he seems to make the right play at the right time. Unlike most point guards his age, he understands when to pass, shoot and drive to the cup. Despite his obvious talent, he appears to have his ego in check, as he encourages and motivates his teammates to compete. It's also clear that Caldwell is a bright kid (he made the Honor Roll the last grading period) who understands what it will take to play division I college basketball. Caldwell is already making plans for high school (he wants to attend Stivers HS) and beyond. According to his father Rob, Rodrick is a die hard Ohio State basketball fan who as already researched the dorm room and admissions policies at Ohio State as he prepares himself to suit up for the Buckeyes in a few years. Let me say this, although I'm not ready to crown him the top 6th grade in Ohio, its far too early for that, if there is a better point guard in the state, I want to see him. From what little I have seen and heard, if Caldwell can continue to work hard to develop his game, remain humble, and avoid the many traps and pitfalls that tend to trip up so many of our young people these days, he has a legitimate chance of playing ball at a high level. Like most kids his age, Rodrick dreams of playing in the NBA one day, but if that does not happen, he aspires to be an engineer and/or a basketball commentator after his college career is finished. You read it hear first people, I really think this kid is spacial! If you want to see if the hype is justified, or you want your shot at competing against Rodrick, he and many other of the state's top players will be attending the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase here in Columbus on March 6th.