Former Kentucky men’s basketball player Rodrick Rhodes’ tumultuous stint as head coach at Cordia School in Hazard appears to be the subject of a new 10-episode documentary series that will be available via the Watchable streaming service on Sept. 19.
Titled “Us Against the World” the Uproxxx production by award-winning filmmaker Trent Cooper will “delve into the drama behind one high school basketball team’s experience on the frontlines of the culture wars that have defined America for decades,” according to an article on Uproxx.com.
A trailer for the series appears to draw that culture war in Cordia as a matter of race.
“You’re in a predominantly white area,” an unnamed voice says as the trailer begins. “They don’t want to be beat by black boys.”
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Rhodes bolstered the Lions with transfers from in- and out of state and took it from a 14th Region doormat to a regional power in the span of a few years.
The rapid rise of the Lions drew intense scrutiny and KHSAA sanctions for recruiting violations that included a two-year postseason ban beginning in 2014. Rhodes continued to coach Cordia through the sanctions and led the Lions to their first All “A” Classic title in 2016.
“Everybody wants to see you go home tomorrow,” Rhodes says in a locker room clip. “I guarantee you they don’t want us here. … I’m not telling you to hate anybody, but use it as fuel, because they hated on you.”
Despite that success, Rhodes’ contract was not renewed by Knott County schools that summer. The termination was based upon his “inability to maintain a satisfactory working relationship with Principal (Jonathan Mullins), insubordination, neglect of duty and ineffectiveness with respect to following established school district policies and procedures related to Red Book training and accounting requirements,” according to a letter signed by Knott County superintendent Kim King.
Rhodes attended the All “A” Classic this past season and watched his former team in action at the Frankfort Convention Center. A film crew was with him at the event. Rhodes did not want to comment at the time, but said he felt wronged by Knott County school officials and was still looking to get back into coaching.
Rhodes was 76-51 in his five seasons at Cordia. Rhodes played three seasons at Kentucky under Coach Rick Pitino in the early ’90s before transferring to Southern California.
Before he took the Cordia job, it was clear he was concerned how he would be perceived in Eastern Kentucky. In a Mark Story column published at the beginning of his first season in 2011, Rhodes said he called former teammate Jeff Sheppard before accepting the position.
“I said, ‘Shep, how is it?’” Rhodes said. “And, ‘how is it for me?’”
Sheppard’s told Rhodes he would be welcomed.
“I told Rod that when the people in Eastern Kentucky looked at him, they weren’t going to see white or black,” Sheppard said. “They were going to see him and see (Kentucky Wildcats) blue.”
Said Rhodes at the time: “He was right. The people have been great to me.”