I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Pack Legend Rodney Monroe this past Saturday. Some of you Pack fans might not have the tenure to remember watching “Ice” play. Allow me to bring some of you up to speed and remind some of us of just how much of a dent Rodney left on NC State Basketball history.
Rodney Monroe is the Pack’s All-Time Scoring leader with 2,551 points. This ranks him 4th in ACC history behind Johnny Dawkins (Duke – 1983-86), Dickie Hemric (Wake – 1952-55) and J.J. Redick (Duke – 2003-06). Also, he averaged 20.6ppg during his career at NC State (Tied for 2nd All-Time with Kenny Carr). Monroe is the best 3-Point artist the Pack has seen. He holds the NC State record for the most 3-Pointers made with 322. That number becomes much more impressive when you realize that Engin Atsur’s total of 223 ranks him #2. Rodney also ranks 4th in NC State History in 3PT FG% (43.6%) and 5th in FT% (83.6%).
Rodney’s accolades go further than NC State records. He was dubbed First-Team All-ACC in 1989 and 1991 and was the ACC Player of the Year in 1991 as well. He also made the All-ACC Tourney squad in 1988 and 1991. The AP selected him to be an All-American Honorable Mention in 1990 and in 1991 they placed him as a 3rd-Team All-American. The Sporting News placed him on the First Team All-American where he rightfully belonged in 1991. Most Pack fans haven’t forgotten Rodney’s senior season in which he averaged 27ppg. His most memorable game that year was his 48 point output against Georgia Tech, which was his career high.
Rodney Monroe and Chris Corchiani made up one of the best two-player combos in NCAA history. Corchiani was “Fire” and Monroe was “Ice.” They were a part of Coach Valvano’s heralded 1987 recruiting class. Both of them were McDonald’s All-Americans in high school. With Monroe being NC State’s All-Time Leading scorer and Corchiani being the Pack’s All-Time assist leader, a lot of the Pack’s success on the court during those years can be attributed to their ability to play together as a duo.
Rodney Monroe is an unbelievable guy. I can’t say enough about the man’s character. I got to live a dream this Saturday as I got to interview one of my childhood heroes. Here is how the conversation unfolded:
WolfpackHoops: So, Rodney what have you been up to?
Rodney Monroe: I have been living in Charlotte for about a year and a half now. I am doing one-on-one and group basketball training. I also recently became the Head Middle School Basketball Coach at Lake Norman Christian School. We have a 9-1 record right now. We have 10 boys on the team and 5 of them had never played basketball before this season. It has been a season of learning for these kids and it has been fun to watch them improve.
WolfpackHoops: Dang Rodney, now that’s coaching. Do you love what you are doing now?
Rodney Monroe: I get to do the two things that I love to do. I get to be around the game of basketball and I get to teach people about Jesus Christ. I get the opportunity to speak in the chapel services at school every once in a while. I also speak at different churches and youth groups when I get the opportunities as well.
WolfpackHoops: It seems like your faith in Jesus Christ is really important to you?
Rodney Monroe: I committed my life to follow Jesus Christ 14 years ago when I was playing in the CBA for the Beach Dogs. I was living the high life at the time. I was playing professional ball, getting paid good money, and had just gotten married. But there was still something missing in my life. I was raised in church and my family was full of Christians. But in high school and college, like many kids, I strove away from what I knew to be right. I knew what was missing in my life. I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
WolfpackHoops: That’s incredible and so encouraging to hear Rodney. Tell us a little bit about your time playing professionally in Europe?
Rodney Monroe: I’ve been retired for about 2 years now. Europe was great. I played in about every place you can imagine. All three of my sons were born in Europe.
WolfpackHoops: Do you still stay in contact with any of the Pack players that you played with?
Rodney Monroe: I still talk to Corchiani on a regular basis. Sometimes we still get together for some promotional stuff as “Fire” and “Ice.” I also talk with Tom Gugliotta and Chucky Brown every once in awhile.
WolfpackHoops: Do you know Coach Lowe pretty well?
Rodney Monroe: Yeah I know Coach Lowe pretty well. I actually saw him last week at the opening of the McDonald’s on Western Blvd in Raleigh and we talked for awhile. I also try to keep up with the program as much as possible. I made it out to the Davidson game and I’ll probably make down to Raleigh for 2 or 3 more games this year.
WolfpackHoops: Since you are a coach now, what would you say to this NC State Basketball Team?
Rodney Monroe: Most of the games that I have seen it seems like they are playing 30 minutes of a 40 minute game. College Basketball is a 40 minute game. They need to buckle down and play 40 minutes. When you’re playing against ACC talent you can’t afford to lose your focus.
WolfpackHoops: If you could say anything to the Wolfpack Nation what would it be?
Rodney Monroe: You guys are great fans…some of the best fans in college basketball. You need to hang in there with the coaching staff. Coach Lowe is recruiting hard and trying to get the best players and best talent on the court for you. Your faithfulness as fans will be rewarded. You need to stay faithful because fans can either help a team win or they can help them lose. You are the 6th man on the court.
We appreciate Rodney taking time out of his Saturday afternoon to talk with us. We look forward to talking to him in the future. I learned a lot as a person from my conversation with Rodney. His honesty and transparency with his faith encouraged me in my faith. Rodney is truly a legend on and off the court.
Rodney Monroe’s Professional Basketball Profile
1991: drafted by Atlanta Hawks (NBA,2rd(30))
1991-1992: Atlanta Hawks (NBA)
1992-1993: Atlanta Hawks (NBA)
1993: Canberra Cannons (AUS): Score-5(25.3)
1993-1994: Rochester Renegades (CBA): 56games, 20.2ppg, 3.8rpg
1994-1995: Hapoel Givat (ISR): 24games, 22.4ppg, 4rpg
1995-1996: Florida Beachdogs (CBA): 15games, 19.4ppg, 3.9rpg
1996-1997: Florida Beachdogs (CBA)
1997-1998: Keravnos Nicosia (CYP)
1998: Philippines: 39ppg
1998-1999: Montana Forli (Italy-A2)
1999-2000: Fabriano Leverets (Italy-A2)
2000-2001: Fabriano Leverets (Italy-A2): Score-2(23.8), 4.9rpg, 1.5apg
2001-2002: Fabriano Basket (Italy-LegaA): 38 games: 21.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.2apg, 1.7spg
2002-2003: Euro Roseto (Italy-SerieA): got injured in Sep.’02 before the season started, joined back the team in Dec.’02: ULEB Cup: 5 games: 18,6ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.8spg, 2.0bpg; Italian SerieA: 27 games: 16.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.3apg
2003-2004: In Nov.’03 signed at Conad Rimini (Italy-Lega2): 25 games: 17.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.4apg
2004 – re-signed with Conad Rimini (Italy-Lega2) for another 2 seasons
2004-2005: Conad Rimini (Italy-Lega2): 33 games: 19.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.1apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 44.2%, 3FGP: 42.0%
2005-2006: CoopSette Rimini (Italy-Lega2), in Dec.’05 signed at C.B. Plasencia Galco (Spain-LEB): 17 games: 14.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.0apg, 2FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 32.2%, FT: 78.3%
2006-2007: In Jan.’07 signed at Pepsi Caserta (Italy-Lega2, starting five), left next month: 2 games: 5.0ppg, 1.0bpg
Terquavion Smith is a Top-10 Scorer in the NBA G-League
Former Wolfpack scoring guard, Terquavion Smith is going off in the NBA-G League, and is now the 9th best scorer in the NBA G-League.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 26, 2023
He’s averaging 24ppg, shooting 40% from the floor and 37% from long range. He’s also adding 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. But putting the stats aside, his performances have been electric.
Terq Smith with the hammer SLAM. pic.twitter.com/lglY7PHGOk
— Delaware Blue Coats (@blue_coats) November 26, 2023
His team, the Blue Coats, are an affiliate of the 76ers. The Sixers are being led by Joel Embid (their center), their PG Tyrese Maxey, and PF Tobias Harris. Smith is a SG, and honestly, I think there’s a shot he gets his chance at some point this season. Kelly Oubre Jr has been out with a broken rib, and his replacement, De’Anthony Melton is doing alright, but his stats aren’t all that different than Terquavion’s.
Melton is averaging 12 points per game, shooting 40% from the floor and 40% from 3pt range. He’s adding 4 rebound and 4 assists.
Smith is the more explosive player, but it’s likely the 76ers want to see a little more offensive efficiency before they start thinking about moving him up.
Former NC State SS Trea Turner Set Phillies’ Record in NLDS
Former NC State All-American Shortstop Trea Turner set a Phillies’ postseason record, collecting 4 hits in Philly’s Game 4 3-1 victory over the Braves. The Phillies first went to the playoffs in 1908, and Turner is the first player to ever have 4 hits in one game.
Turner was 4-4, and was a triple shy of the cycle.
Most people will remember Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos from the NLDS, but it’s Turner that’s slashing 500/.539/.942 in the 2023 playoffs thus far.
Trea Turner gives the Phillies the lead in the 5th inning! pic.twitter.com/x6ExY5XmYp
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 13, 2023
Trea Turner joins the homer party! pic.twitter.com/q3SHTEJ9Lw
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 11, 2023
Trea Turner is worth every damn penny. pic.twitter.com/OyDKWosJRS
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 8, 2023
MLB 2023 Season PackPros Roundup
Five former NC State baseball players played in the Major Leagues in 2023. Here’s a roundup of how it went for the four of them.
Shortstop Trea Turner signed an 11-year $300 million contract with Philadelphia heading into the 2023 season. Turner was coming off of his 2nd All-Star game appearance. 2023 was a little bit of a mixed bag for Turner. Through much of the season, the Phillies looked like they had made a terrible investment in Turner, but he finished the season extremely well. He finished his first season in Philly with a batting average of .266, which is the lowest of his career, if you don’t count the .225 he batted in his first year in the MLB, batting .225 in only 27 games. With that being said, his 26 home runs were the 2nd most of his career, and he stole 30 bases for the first time since 2021. Turner’s 102 Runs ranked 10th in the National League, and his 30 Stolen Bases ranked 9th.
Turner was taken with the 13th overall pick in 2014.
Carlos Rodon’s first year in New York was his worst season in the MLB to date. After signing a 6-year $162 million with the Yankees in the offseason, expectations were high for what Rodon would bring to the Yankees. He was coming off of back-to-back All-Star seasons in Chicago and San Francisco. Injury has plagued Rodon at times throughout his career, and the injury bug struck three times this season. As a result, Rodon only started 14 games. He finished the season with a 3-8 record, and a outrageous 6.85 ERA.
Rodon was taken with the 3rd overall pick in 2014.
Catcher Patrick Bailey made his MLB debut this season. He was called up from Triple A to the Giants on May 19. While Bailey’s offensive numbers won’t ‘wow’ you, he was one of the best fielding catchers in all of the MLB this year. In 97 games, Bailey posted a .233 batting average, with 7 HRs and 48 RBI. In fielding, Bailey was the best in the Majors in Framing, 2nd in Pop Time, and 2nd in Caught Stealing Above Average. He ranked 6th, throwing out 15 base stealers.
Bailey was taken with the 13th overall pick in 2020.
Catcher Andrew Knizner entered the year on thin ice with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and the fanbase, but by seasons end, he became a fan favorite. Despite the fact that he is behind starter Willson Contreras, Knizner played 70 games, and looked like a starting MLB catcher in many of them. Knizner finished with a career high in batting average (.241), Runs (30), 2B (11), HR (10), RBI (31), SLG (.424) and OPS (.712). Technically Knizner doesn’t become an undrafted free agent until 2026, signing a 1-year $1.1 million contract in arbitration prior to the season.
Knizner was taken in the 7th round in 2016.
Pitcher Evan Justice was called up to the Colorado Rockies for a brief stint in his first season of professional baseball. Things didn’t go well after the call up, posting an 8.59 ERA in 9 appearances, striking out 7 batters in 7.1 innings. As a result, he was optioned back down to Triple-A. In 2023, Justice pitched in A, AA, AAA and the majors. In the minors, he had an impressive 6-1 record with a 3.49 ERA, striking out an impressive 63 batters in 38.2 innings. Opponents batting average against him was a putrid .131, and his WHIP was 1.11.
Justice was taken in the 5th round in 2021.
PI EXCLUSIVE: AJ Cole Shares His NC State Story
Former NC State Punter A.J. Cole is now a Pro Bowl Punter for the Las Vegas Raiders. Cole averaged 42.2 yards per punt while serving as the Wolfpack’s punter, which ranks 4th in school history. Since going undrafted in 2019, Cole was signed as a free agent by the Raiders, and he’s been their starter ever since. Cole was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022, and earned 1st Team All Pro honors in 2021.
I caught up with Cole, and he shared how he ended up as the punter at NC State, what his time in Raleigh meant to him, how being a Wolfpack football player prepared him for the NFL, what it’s like to play with and against former teammates, and what NC State means to him today.
I’ll let him share his story in his own words.
“I went to the NC State camp in the summer going into my Senior year. They were looking to scholarship a punter. I had started punting in December, right after my Junior season ended, so I was still super raw. The coach that was running the camp set up a competition for Coach Doeren to watch the Punters. To qualify for the competition, you had 2 chances to hit a 38-yard punt with 3.8 seconds of hang time, which is not that hard. I was pretty nervous though, and shanked my 2 qualifying punts. So they eliminated everyone that didn’t qualify and brought up the guys that were going to kick in front of Coach Doeren. Well, the coach running the camp yells at me to ‘come over,’ and I told him I didn’t qualify. He said “You sure? I’m pretty sure you did. Hop in the line.” So I hopped in the line, and kicked really well. Coach Doeren brought me up to his office after the camp, and offered me a scholarship on the spot
It was pretty funny though, because I had never punted in a game before. So when I got home, they asked me for my hudl highlight tape, so they could watch it as a staff, and I had to tell them I had never punted in a game before, but I’d send them my tape after a couple games.
My experience at NC State was incredible. The biggest thing I always tell people about State is the people are great. From teammates, to coaches, to professors, to the other students, I really just enjoyed the kind of person that NC State attracts. I had a chance to pursue 2 dreams while I was there. I got to chase an engineering degree and play football. Obviously, I’m doing the football thing right now, but if that hadn’t worked out, my NC State degree would have served me well. Raleigh, North Carolina means a lot to me, and it really helped shape me into the man I am.
I feel like NC State prepared me well for the NFL. Being in a consistently competitive environment in the ACC definitely helped adjusting to the level of competition in the league. The facilities are world class, and the strength and conditioning program helped me make some super crucial changes to my body that allowed me to reach my potential.
Playing with Jakobi Meyers again has been awesome. It’s cool to play at this level with guys that you knew from college. We always talk about how the Pack is doing, and we do some reminiscing on the Raleigh days. There’s so many NC State guys in the league right now, it feels like every week I’m seeing an old teammate. That’s really special.
I absolutely still keep up with NC State. I watch all the games I can, and my friends from college are still my best friends.