BUSAN, South Korea – The state of Mississippi might not be on the tip of most Busan basketball fans tongues, but the Magnolia State natives Charles Rhodes and Jasper Johnson might be the catalysts that ignite a championship BOOM for the KT Sonic Boom.
The team has been atop the Korean Basketball League (KBL) standings for most of the year, and they look poised to make a long playoff run. According to Rhodes, what the Mississippi dynamite duo brings to the court every night is unmatched in Korea.
“Jasper and I are a combo,” said Rhodes. “He’s a shooting forward and I’m just a dunk man, rebounder and defender. I think that is what makes us work out the best.”
With nicknames like “Beast”, “Charles in Charge”, and “Chucky Rhadical,” it is no surprise that first-year player Charles Rhodes has forced his will, tenacious defense and high-octane style on the rest of the KBL all season. Rhodes, 25, is enjoying a fantastic rookie year, earning invitations to the All-Star game and the slam-dunk contest during the KBL’s All-Star event.
“I just bring energy,” Rhodes said about his role on the Sonic Boom.
However, in 2008, his career was stalled. His tank was full, but his wheels were flat.
The Mississippi State University Bulldog standout underwent ankle surgery while playing in Latvia. The nagging ankle problems had hindered Rhodes while he was a Bulldog, and played an integral role, according to him, in his eventual cut from the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. Once in Latvia, Rhodes said he could not ignore the pain any longer and opted for surgery.
The surgery cost him two years, and the high-flying center began the season struggling to regain his form and adapt to a new team, new league and new culture.
“With me being out for two years, I had to get the mental part of the game back and try to learn a new system,” he said. “It was a little rough on me, but I got it now.”
The transition was made easier due to seeing a familiar face everyday in practice. Rhodes said Johnson, a friend from his Mississippi days, was instrumental in him deciding to join the Sonic Boom and that the two imports have meshed well with their Korean counterparts leading to one obvious conclusion.
“We are on the right page right now; we just have to keep doing what we are doing. Just play KT basketball and we are going to be victorious in the end.”
The KT Sonic Boom are currently at the top of the KBL standings with a 30-11 record. The Boom are in town this Friday, the 18th, at 7 p.m at Sajik Indoor Stadium against the Seoul Samsung Thunders.