“Five years is not a vet, but in training camp, I’m a vet.”
It’s safe to say Sugar Rodgers is adjusting to a bit of new role with the Liberty. Re-signing during the offseason, Rodgers will be back in New York, a year removed from one of the most prolific 3-point shooting campaigns in WNBA history, and certainly the best in 20 seasons of Liberty basketball.
It’s been a bit of a tumultuous professional career for Rodgers, whom anyone who has been around her in the league will eagerly share that she is one of the hardest workers in the game today. Originally drafted by Minnesota after her historic college career at Georgetown, Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer acquired her after her rookie season for the right to swap 3rd round picks with the Lynx, mostly because he was impressed with her defensive skills, not her 3-point shooting.
While Rodgers’ abilities on the defensive end are often overlooked, now she is without question one of the best handful of long-distance shooting threats in the world. As a rookie with the Lynx, she played in 28 games, but just 7.6 minutes per game, averaging 1.6 ppg.
Since then, every single season she has improved on her numbers in nearly every category. Her 1st season in New York saw her score 6.0 ppg, then 8.1 ppg in 2015, followed by her breakout last year when she poured in 14.5 ppg, ranking 14th in the league in scoring, while sinking a franchise record 86 3-pointers.
No longer a player using training camp to prove that she belongs on a roster, Rodgers is going to be counted on as one of the team’s emerging leaders. She is entering her 4th year with the team, tied with Tina Charles for the longest tenure on the Liberty, which has seen its roster undergo a complete overhaul since the start of the 2014 season.
“We have a lot of rookies in camp,” said Rodgers. “I’m letting them know, that I’m here for them when they need me, having the younger girls come talk to me, giving them a helping hand when I can.”
So, heading into 2017, the question once again is whether Rodgers can continue to improve on the impressive numbers she has been posting.
With the return of a healthy Epiphanny Prince, Kiah Stokes in the lane, and post players that can spread a defense thing in Charles and Amanda Zahui B, there should be plenty of room to see Rodgers go to work once again.