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Two Rhodes lead to semistate. Kingston and Kaiden Rhodes help Crown Point win with ‘team-first mentality.’

Twin brothers Kingston and Kaiden Rhodes have a lot in common.

Above all, perhaps, the sophomore guards take the results of Crown Point’s games to heart, according to coach Clint Swan.

“The biggest thing with both of those guys that allows them to be successful, everything with them is rooted in unselfishness and humility,” Swan said. “They are the most humble kids you’ll ever come across. They’re both very talented. They’re both very gifted. They both work extremely hard. But there’s no entitlement. There’s no selfishness.

“You can see it in how they react after wins and losses. If they have good games and we lose, they are visibly shook by it. If they have bad games and we win, they’re as thrilled as can be. It’s almost like they haven’t been corrupted by the selfish nature of high school basketball these days. They just have stayed rooted in a team-first mentality, and it enables them to be successful.”

There have been a lot of smiles for Kingston and Kaiden Rhodes during Crown Point’s memorable season. The Bulldogs (20-5) won their first regional title since 1998 and will play top-ranked Fishers (26-1) in the semifinals of the Class 4A Elkhart Semistate on Saturday.

“I love playing for this team,” Kingston Rhodes said. “I’m excited. We proved a lot of people wrong.”

Winning as teammates has made the experience even more special for the Rhodes brothers.

“It’s fun,” Kaiden Rhodes said. “We have that connection. We can play-make with each other. We know what to do. I can’t really explain it. It’s that twin connection. It’s different.”

Kingston Rhodes put it another way.

“It’s like having another me out there,” he said.

Kingston Rhodes, a 5-foot-8 starter, averages 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He had 11 points and three steals in the Bulldogs’ overtime win against Warsaw in the regional championship game.

“He was the best player on the floor,” Swan said. “He was the difference-maker that allowed us to get separation when we needed it. He was terrific throughout the game.”

Crown Point's Kingston Rhodes moves the ball during the Class 4A Regional 2 championship game against Warsaw at Michigan City on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Michael Gard/for the Post-Tribune)
Crown Point’s Kingston Rhodes moves the ball during the Class 4A Michigan City Regional championship game against Warsaw on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Michael Gard / Post-Tribune)

Kingston Rhodes began his freshman season on the junior varsity team. He earned a promotion midway through the season and averaged 3.3 points. He hasn’t looked back.

“The best thing that happened, we moved him up and got him those varsity minutes,” Swan said. “He started out on JV, and Mike Holobawski, our JV coach, to his credit, actually told me, ‘I think we’re done here. I don’t think he should be on JV anymore.’ And we moved him up to varsity.

“It was great we did that last year because he made us better. But you see a comfort level with him this year that maybe he wouldn’t have reached if he hadn’t done it last year. Last year, he was the freshman just trying to navigate his way and trying to understand what it was like to be a varsity player. This year, you see him taking command in games when he needs to. You see him looking to shoot more when he knows he needs to score and it has to be him to score.”

Kaiden Rhodes has noticed that progress.

“He’s matured as a person,” Kaiden Rhodes said. “He’s gotten way better as a shooter. He’s gotten way better just with his pace with the ball and passing. He’s grown into a true point guard.”

The opportunities for Kaiden Rhodes, a 5-9 reserve, have been more limited. But he has stayed the course.

“I’ve just been keeping my head up,” he said. “I don’t play that much, but I keep my head up and be positive, and make sure when I get in, I make a positive impact on the team — just making sure I do great when I get out there.”

Kaiden Rhodes has consistently lived up to that standard.

“Every time he’s been called upon, he’s delivered,” Swan said. “I seriously think a lot of times he’s not out there because his stupid coach doesn’t get him out there enough. But that’s going to change. He’s going to be a big part of what we do.

“He also knows we’re probably going to need him on Saturday. If we’re fortunate enough to win on Saturday, we’re certainly going to need him on Saturday night. He’s always ready. He knows this weekend’s games, he’s going to have to step up and deliver.”

Kingston Rhodes expressed pride in the way Kaiden has handled his role.

“Every time he gets out there, he’s getting stops,” Kingston Rhodes said. “He can guard the best player. Even though he doesn’t play as much, he gets out there and shows what he can do, keeps his confidence up.”

Their father, Jason Rhodes, a former standout player at Lew Wallace who graduated in 2003, has helped cultivate that approach. Jason Rhodes has coached Kingston and Kaiden throughout their lives; he’s their current AAU coach. Harlem Rhodes, their cousin, is a senior at West Side, and their uncle Marcus Rhodes also starred at Wallace.

“He’s had a huge impact on me,” Kaiden Rhodes said of his father. “He always pushes me to get better every day. He tells me to get my head up when I play bad. Just a very positive role model — my biggest one.”

Kingston Rhodes agreed.

“He’s made a big, positive influence on me,” he said. “He makes sure we stay in the gym. He’s provided all of these things for us.”

Kingston Rhodes has also become quite familiar with his father’s playing career.

“He was good,” Kingston Rhodes said. “He’s always showing me his highlights. I’m like, ‘I’m better. I can do that.’ I show him my highlights.”

Swan appreciates Jason Rhodes and the family.

“He was a good player, and he’s a good coach,” Swan said. “Just like there’s good high school basketball and bad high school basketball, there’s good AAU and bad AAU. You watch his AAU teams play, they play the right way. They’re well-drilled. You can tell their practices are run right. So when they go away to play AAU, I know it’s not a free-for-all. I know they’re well-coached 365 days a year.

“They’re awesome kids. They’re just so well-loved by their teammates, by everybody in this school. Mom and dad are the best, such good people. It’s been fun watching those kids grow.”

Michael Osipoff , 2024-03-13 12:29:16

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