Basketball took on new meaning for Rodney Monroe yesterday. It officially became a job when the Hagerstown native signed a two-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
Terms of the contract were not released.
"This is just another step to where I want to get to," said Monroe, reached at his hotel in Atlanta yesterday afternoon. "Signing the contract is a big step. Now I'm getting paid to play a game I've loved for so long."
Monroe, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, was the Hawks' second-round pick out of North Carolina State and the 30th overall selection in last June's NBA draft.
"We are happy to have Rodney signed," Hawks president/general manager Stan Katsen said in a prepared statement. "He has a real chance to make this team, given his offensive skill, and that's exactly what we've been looking for the the last few years."
The Washington Bullets nearly drafted Monroe with their lone second-round pick but opted for more size with Louisville 6-3 guard LaBradford Smith.
Monroe has a good opportunity to play regularly with the Hawks, who have only one of their five guards from last season -- second-year point guard Rumeal Robinson -- under contract.
Monroe was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year last season. He averaged 27 points a game, seventh in the nation, and was N.C. State's all-time leading scorer with 2,551 career points.
Monroe finished his high school career at Hagerstown's St. Maria Goretti as the state's all-time scoring leader, with 3,047 points.
In his senior season at Goretti, he averaged 27 points and was named The Sun's Player of the Year after leading Goretti to the Baltimore Catholic League title and a Metro Classic victory over favored Lake Clifton. Monroe scored 47 points in that game, including a 60-foot shot at the buzzer to win the game.