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The Driver’s Seat: Rogers brings overseas experience to the Saints

The Driver’s Seat: Rogers brings overseas experience to the Saints

ARLINGTON, Va.  – Brandon Rogers, like many American kids, grew up playing soccer and basketball.

"I had to decide between the two so I decided to go with basketball. Soccer kind of wore off on me," he said. "I did not start playing basketball until fifth or sixth grade."

What makes Rogers unique is he was doing this all of the time in Japan, where his American parents have been educators for nearly 20 years.

Rogers, 20, now a sophomore on the men's basketball team at Marymount, was born in Malaysia and was about 1 when his parents moved to Japan. His American parents, who both played college sports in Minnesota, also taught in Italy before moving to Asia.

From elementary school through his last year of high school he attended The American School in Tokyo, Japan. His mother, Julie, teaches math and his father, Aaron, has taught physical education and health.

During breaks from school when he was younger, his family would travel around the world and Rogers has been to 17 countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Kenya, Belgium, Germany, Italy, China and Myanmar (Burma).

For many years, his family has spent the summers at their lakeside home in southern Minnesota. Rogers has a younger brother and sister who still attend The American School in Japan.

His mother played basketball and softball at Southwest Minnesota State University while his father played football and baseball there. Both of them coached Brandon in basketball at certain junctures at The American School, where his high school team played against military schools and Japanese schools.

For some hoop tournaments, the team would fly to Hong Kong. "The level of play was not nearly as good as it is here," Rogers said of American prep basketball.

So how did he end up at Marymount?

The summer before his senior year of high school he played for a basketball program based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania that is geared for Americans who live overseas. He was coached on Global Squad by John Alexander, who grew up in China and played at Division III Washington College in Maryland.

One of his brothers is Joe Alexander, who played hoops at the University of West Virginia and was the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA draft in 2008 by the Milwaukee Bucks and has since played overseas as a pro.

Marymount Head Coach Chris Rogers (no relation), who played in college at Penn State, knew about Global Squad and learned about Brandon Rogers. They kept in touch during the student's senior year in Japan, where he averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and three assists per game.

After limited playing time as a freshman in Arlington, when he averaged just 6.0 minutes and 0.9 points per contest, Rogers is a key guard this season.

"There was a big adjustment from the speed he was playing" in Japan, coach Rogers said. "He is still shooting (pretty well) from 3-point range. He can do some other things. He is a pretty athletic kid and he is learning to defend. He is really smart. He is a very confident kid – not cocky. You can tell him something and he will do it."

Rogers had 10 points and three assists as the Saints won 77-66 last Wednesday at Frostburg State. 

The sophomore guard has started the first 18 games and is averaging 27.3 minutes and 9.2 points per contest. He is one of the team's top three-point shooters, and despite a recent slump is shooting 34.4 percent from long distance.

"I knew there would be a spot open. I knew it would be me or two of my buddies that would fill it," he said of guard play this season. "I worked my butt off in the off-season. It was definitely a learning curve. I think I got the hang of it. I am trying to stay comfortable with my shot; that is the thing that carries me. I am kind of in a funk right now."

Rogers looked at several Division III schools, including ones in Maryland and Minnesota, and also considered Cal Tech.

"Marymount fit well. It was affordable and it allowed me to play basketball and it had my major and it was located near a major city," Rogers said.

His parents were at their home in Minnesota during the Christmas holiday and drove to Nashville to see Rogers and the Saints play December 29-30 in the Music City Classic.

Rogers, with a grade-point average around 3.9, is a business administration major in the honors program who hopes to work in marketing for a pro sports team or with ESPN.

He has been in preliminary talks with NBC about assisting in coverage of the 2020 Olympics in Japan. "That would be great," he said.

Coach Rogers has a friend who works with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA and they have discussed a possible internship for the Saints sophomore.

"He is an easy kid to sell to people," his coach said.

 

Editor's note: David Driver is a special consultant to the MU athletic department. He can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com

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