Rogers ‘Rocky Toppin’ his way to Carson-Newman

KNOXVILLE --- Former Farragut High School basketball player Nick Rogers will soon take his basketball talents to the college ranks and Carson-Newman University.

But he’s spending the summer playing a few more times in front of his family, friends and former teammates in the Knox County area. He’s competing with and against some of the Southeast region’s elite college and professional basketball players in the Pilot Rocky Top Basketball League at Knoxville Catholic High.

“It’s great to play in this league,” said Rogers, who was the 2015-16 District 4-AAA Player of the Year as a junior with the Admirals. “You’re playing against some of the best players around. This can only make me get better for next year.

“I grew up watching games in this league and it’s really cool to get the chance to play in it. It will help me get ready for the next level,” he added.

In two games with the league’s Rice Buick GMC team, Rogers is averaging 5.5 points per game. the squad is coached by former South -Doyle coach [and current Powell High School principal] Dr. Chad Smith.

One of Rogers’ Pilot Rocky Top League teammates is Tennessee’s Grant Williams. Many current Volunteers are playing in Knoxville this summer and Rogers relishes his opportunity to go up against some top-notch college hoopsters and some of the top professional players making their living overseas.

“I’m just focused on getting better and playing against these guys can only make me better,” Rogers said.

The league is intended to be fan-friendly and each game is full of offensive fireworks, dazzling dunks and no-look passes. Many fans feel that defense often takes a back seat.

Rogers said that’s a misconception.

“There are some great players in this league and you just never know what might happen,” he said. “But in the last two or three minutes, you can get those competitive juices flowing.

“Things get intense and the defense gets turned up because we all want to win.”

Shortly after the conclusion of the Pilot Rocky Top League, Rogers will move on to play college basketball for the Eagles in Jefferson City.

And he’s looking forward to making the leap and competing for Carson-Newman.

“I liked coach [Chuck] Benson and I liked the atmosphere up there,” said Rogers, who may pursue a degree in physical therapy. “It’s a small school and the classes there aren’t much different than classes at Farragut High. It’s not too big.

“I like being in small classes where you’re not just a number.”

Rogers also noted that it was important for him to stay relatively close to home.

“The school is far enough away, so I can have a little independence,” Rogers said. “But it’s close enough for me to go home when I need to.”