Rodrick Sikes received very little interest from Division I basketball programs leaving St. Martin High School.
On Wednesday in Summit, he signed a letter of intent with the University of South Alabama.
Sikes spent the last two seasons at Southwest Mississippi Community College and developed into one of the state’s top junior college players. By averaging 22 points a game as a sophomore, he proved that he was a Division I talent.
“That made a big chip on my shoulder,” Sikes said Wednesday of being overlooked in high school. “My goal was to prove everybody wrong. I think I’ve done that, but that chip will never leave.”
Sikes signed with USA after verbally committing to the Jaguars on April 1. He chose the school over Morehead State, Central Michigan and several other Division I programs.
“It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Sikes said.
The chance to sign with South Alabama fulfilled a long-held dream for Sikes, who was a member of the 2015 Sun Herald All-South Mississippi Team as a St. Martin Yellow Jacket.
“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” Sikes said. “Everybody in my family played. Ever since my freshman year of high school, my dream was to play Division I basketball.”
Sikes helped lead SMCC to a 35-17 record of the last two seasons in Summit. He had his breakout game as a freshman, scoring 31 points in the MACJC Tournament title game to help the Bears win their first state championship in 53 years. He was named the tournament MVP.
Sikes plans to study mechanical engineering at South Alabama, beginning classes on the Mobile campus on May 30.
“I feel pretty comfortable with (South Alabama),” he said. “I feel like my future is safe in their hands. My goal is to play professional ball and that’s the place to get that done.”
Sikes should receive immediate playing time at South Alabama, which loses plenty of experience from a team that finished 14-18 in the 2016-17 season.