Rod Sellers played for Uconn from 1988-1992 and was a cornerstone of that 1990 “dream season”.
We recently caught up with Rod to get his perspective on those years & grabbed a few comments from Donyell & Chris Smith.
BE Hoops 24/7: How does a kid from Florence, SC land in the Big East playing for the UConn Huskies?
Sellers: I was getting recruited by a few ACC and SEC schools. My brother went to Central Connecticut State University and his coach came to see me play. He thought I was pretty good and better than that level so he told the assistant coach at UCONN about me. He came to see me play and they had a scholarship left and offered me. I was basically a last minute throw in there. But I knew with my work ethic that I had a chance to play up there. I knew the Big East was a tough league but I wanted to prove to myself that I could compete. So to UCONN I went and I will say that I had a pretty good Career for a guy not heavily recruited.
BE Hoops 24/7: How long did it take you to understand Jim Calhoun’s New England accent?
Sellers: Understanding Coach Calhoun was definitely something I had to focus on. I’m from South Carolina and coach has a strong Boston accent and he speaks fast. I would stare at him to make sure I knew what he was saying. It was a challenge at first but after about 3 to 4 months it became a lot easier
“For me, he brought a leadership role. A big brother for me. I was so skinny; he was always so protective of me.” – Donyell Marshall
BE Hoops 24/7: Did you surprise yourself by starting 112 of 126 games over the course of your career?
Sellers: I don’t mean to sound cocky but going up to UCONN I knew I had an opportunity to start. It was one of the reasons I chose UCONN. I knew with my work ethic and my being a team player that if I just did what I needed to do that I would have that chance at starting. Freshman year was a huge challenge of ups and downs with me starting 17 out of 31 games. But it helped me greatly and after that I became a full time starter.
BE Hoops 24/7: What did it mean for the state of Connecticut in 1989-90 when UConn finished 31-6, won the Big East Championship, and advanced to the Elite 8?
Sellers: I think the 89-90 season, which they call the Dream Season in Connecticut, was huge for the state. It was the building blocks for the UCONN program. I think it helped build the program from a regional school to a National Powerhouse. But the love we received in the State was tremendous. It was like a dream come true. Now we are not just playing for the school anymore. We are now playing for the state.
BE Hoops 24/7: What did it mean to your family and friends to beat Clemson in the Sweet 16 in the 1990 NCAA Tournament?
Sellers: Coming out of High School I was recruited by Clemson but they wanted me to Redshirt my freshman year. It was a school I wanted to attend but they had lukewarm interest in me. So for us to play them in the tournament was a huge opportunity for me. The bad part was I was playing with an injured knee so I was extremely limited against a great Clemson Front Line of Dale Davis and Elden Campbell. I was happy we got that win and that game still goes down as one of the greatest in UCONN history. That was The Shot! The game that took us to the Elite 8.
“Rod was a monster for us under the rim. He was a great rebounder & defender of the paint. If we needed a score in the paint, Rod was our man.” – Chris Smith
BE Hoops 24/7: Who was the most influential person that got you where you are today?
Sellers: The most influential persons in my life have always been my brother Patrick Sellers (@SellersanlyzNBA), my mother, Coach Calhoun and Coach Dickenman. They all have had a huge impact on the person I am today. My work ethic, my resolve, my willingness to compete, my passion for the game, and my character.
BE Hoops 24/7: What is your favorite Big East Tournament moment?
Sellers: Favorite Big East Tournament moment definitely has to be winning the Big East Tournament in 1990 against Syracuse. I didn’t play that much due to my knee injury but that was a culmination of a great season. To watch the fans storm the court after winning it and then watching the committee give us a number 1 seed in the East immediately after was something many players dream about. And to live that was simply beautiful.
BE Hoops 24/7: Who were the top 5 guys you had to guard in your Big East days?
Sellers: The Top five guys I had to defend in my Big East days were; Derrick Coleman, Alonzo Mourning, Rob Werdann, Brian Shorter, Dikembe Mutombo
BE Hoops 24/7: Do you keep in touch with any of the guys from your era?
Sellers: I stay in constant Contact with the guys I played with at UCONN. Even the guys I played against. I played against quite a few Big East guys while I was playing ball in Europe and we always talked about how tough the League was and how much fun we had. My old teammates from UCONN always talk about how great the UCONN days were. The fun we had.
BE Hoops 24/7: Are you able to appreciate all of your accomplishments looking back after all of these years?
Sellers: Now that I’m in the working world I think back to my college days and all the fun we had and all the experiences that I was afforded just by playing a game that I love and I can’t help but be thankful for everything. Basketball has given me so much. It has taught me so much. It has helped shape me into the person I am today. It also pushes me to help others achieve their dreams of playing college ball. I live in Atlanta now and I get asked everyday where did I play college ball, and when I mention UCONN the reactions I get are priceless. It’s amazing how far the program has come. I remember telling someone my freshman year that I played at UCONN and the guy asked me how I like playing in Alaska (Yukon). Now whenever I mention that I played at University of Connecticut people will say, UCONN!!!!!!!! And I’m like yes, UCONN!!! Then they will say, that’s big time. That always makes me smile. Just knowing how far we have come.
Our thanks to Rod for taking the time to answer a few questions. You can follow him on Twitter @rsell22