John Carroll point guard Rodney Elliott has spent the past four years starring against local competition. For the next four years, the Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection will stay close to home and attempt to do the same in the America East.
"It's a great feeling. I'm glad I got it off my chest," said Elliott, who committed to UMBC on Tuesday. "I felt pressure the last two days that it was coming up on the [spring] signing period. I just wanted to get it off my chest."
Elliott, a co-captain and four-year varsity player, led the No. 7 Patriots with 16.6 points per game, also averaging 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals in his senior season. He closed out his high school career with 1,116 points, 287 assists and 171 steals.
John Carroll coach Tony Martin said UMBC is "a great fit for Rodney in that it's a school known for its tremendous academic situation. This season, Rodney was a classic example of a boy growing into a young man and to see him grow and take on that leadership role was very rewarding. [UMBC] is getting a first-class kid who is going to step in and compete from Day 1 and make them proud off the court as well."
Elliott starred last summer for the Under Armour-sponsored B'more's Finest AAU team, but his recruitment didn't really take off until the school year began. The fall signing period came and went with Elliott — son of the former Maryland and Dunbar standout of the same name — patiently waiting for his first Division I scholarship offer.
But this season, Elliott quickly picked up offers from UMBC and High Point, and fielded interest from several other DI programs.
The UMBC "coaches came up and the first time they [saw] me they offered me," Elliott said. "I just felt that UMBC would be the place for me because I like the coach and the way they made me feel when I went on my visits."
Elliott's decision essentially came down to two programs fixated on adding local talent to their rosters. High Point's 2012-13 team featured five players from this area — junior guard Derrell Edwards (Dunbar), junior center Allan Chaney (Baltimore native), sophomore wing Devante Wallace (Dunbar), freshman forward Cliff Cornish (North County) and sophomore guard Tre Duncan (Severn).
Under first-year coach Aki Thomas, the Retrievers have tried to replicate that formula. UMBC's 2013 class features former Dulaney forward Will Darley, Springbrook graduate Charles Taylor and ex-Southern combo guard Bryan Harris, who transferred from Wofford and will receive a medical redshirt after undergoing two heart procedures last winter.
"[Thomas] definitely wants to get a lot more local kids," said Harris, who has been cleared by doctors to play again and will have four years of eligibility remaining. "It's a lot of good ball players in the area. It's right under his nose."