When Rodney Elliott, Sr., roamed the court for the Terps in the mid-1990s, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward and former Dunbar High star, by career's end, had turned into one of the best deep-range shooters for Gary Williams.
Like father like son, as now Rodney Elliott, Jr., a bit further north up in Bel Air, Md., is lighting it up from downtown as well.
"My father once told me: if you don't take the shot, you'll never make the shot. Ever since then I've had the passion to have the ball in my hands whenever the game is on the line. I feel I can make plays for my team whether it would be hitting a game winner, getting a game winning assist or taking a game winning charge," junior said.
Last Friday, notching his fourth game- winning shot this season, Elliott, Jr., a 6-foot-1 point guard, led John Carroll to an upset of No. 1 St. Frances and talented top 40 junior Dwayne Morgan, draining a deep jumper with 3.8 seconds remaining for the 42-41 nail-biter.
He led JC with 15 points, which is about his season average, while he adds 4.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He's also hit 42 treys this season.
Earlier in the week, Elliott, Jr., erupted for 27 points, and also the game winner, in a come from behind, 54-52, win over Glenelg. He also added 5 assists. And a game later, this past Monday, Elliott got his average again with a team-leading 15-point, 7-rebound, 2-assist night as JC won in dramatic fashion again, this time 53-50 over Spalding on a buzzer-beater by guard Eli Long, a shot Elliott assisted on. That put JC over the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
But none was bigger than the bomb against St. Frances last Friday night at home. JC has now defeated SFA nine of the last 10 times. It also marked the second time JC had defeated a national Top 25-ranked team this season.
"This season for me is all about getting another championship under my belt and receiving a free education in college. Right now we are on a roll and hopefully we can continue on this winning streak but it will only continue if we continue to grind out wins and give it our all every night we are on the floor," Elliott, Jr., added.
The 6-1, 175-pounder is described by veteran Coach Tony Martin as someone "who can play the 1, the 2, as he is a multi-talented and versatile playmaker and changes speeds well. He can score and hit the 3, has a natural feel for the game, and is a good distributor with excellent vision who makes players around him better."
Martin also added of his skills and upside potential: "He is a strong on-the-ball defender. He's hit multiple game winning shots this year. He's our team co-captain. And he can step in and run a [college] team from Day One."
Baltimore city born, Martin further describes Elliott, Jr., as a "great kid, D1 prospect, and qualifier as he's a good student."
Elliott, Jr., carries a 3.1 cumulative GPA.
Numerous schools have been in touch, but Elliott, Jr., is waiting on his first firm offer, "which is very surprising to anyone that knows Rodney's talent, toughness, skill level and character," Martin said. Schools like Delaware, George Mason, Elon, Lafayette and Rider are on his list, among others.
"Rodney is really a quality young man that, when he arrived, followed the motto 'fit in before you star' as he learned from some very talented upperclassmen during his freshman and sophomore years. As a junior he stepped right into the point guard role and we haven't missed a beat as he is once again leading or program to another special season. "This season, as a senior, he has taken an even more assertive role as exemplified by four game winning shots already this year. He had a couple last year as well."
Rodney Elliott, Sr., played professionally for years overseas, and is now back in the area and attended the Terps-NC State game at Comcast Center this month. His son has attended numerous Terps home games over the years.
Pops came to Maryland as a power forward, but his smooth stroke from deep was an eventual trademark, as he was a big who could step out, face and stretch defenses. After hitting just 15 treys in his first three seasons as a Terp, Elliott, Sr., erupted for 28 (in 74 attempts) during his senior season in 1997-98.
He and Keith Booth blazed the way for Gary Williams to re-establish the Terps in Baltimore city after years of fallout. Affectionately nicknamed 'Noodles,' Elliott was also a star quarterback at Dunbar and top all-around athlete.
For his work on the floor last week, Rodney Elliott, Jr., Martin said, was named Fox 45 TV prep player of the week and Baltimore Sun prep player of the week as well.
By the spring, the fast-emerging talent should be garnering more D1 looks based on the senior season resume he is quickly putting together.
We've scouted Elliott a few times this season and we see him as a heady, poised combo who can both control tempo and knock down jumpers. While not a blazing athlete, he has court smarts, a very solid handle and rarely puts his team in bad situations thanks to strong decision making.
And looking back on his dad's career, he said:
"As far as my father is concerned, I know he was a great player back in the day, but I feel that I am better than he was. He may not agree with me but if we were to play one-on-one today I know I would demolish him. [laugh]."
He may be onto something as on Wednesday night, despite being under the weather, Elliott erupted for 30 points (on 10-for-13 FGs) in another close win, this time 62-60 over Mt. Carmel as JC kept its streak going.