High School Basketball

Lexington's top returning basketball player picks his college

Kyle Rode averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds last season for Lexington Christian Academy.
Kyle Rode averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds last season for Lexington Christian Academy.

Kyle Rode, a senior-to-be at Lexington Christian Academy, committed to play basketball at Liberty University on Tuesday.

Rode, a 6-foot-5 forward who's rated by 247Sports as a three-star prospect and the fifth-best player in Kentucky's 2019 class, announced his decision on Twitter.

Northern Kentucky University was the only in-state school that had offered him. Rode had more than a dozen offers, several coming in the spring. He chose Liberty over a list that included Belmont, IUPUI, Samford and James Madison.

Liberty offered Rode in September. The Flames have played in three NCAA Tournaments, their last appearance coming in 2013, and reached the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament this year. 

Rode told the Herald-Leader that on and off the court, he and his family believed it was the best fit. The Flames since 2015 have been coached by Ritchie McKay, who's in his second stint leading the program; he coached Liberty from 2007-2009 until he took an assistant position under Tony Bennett at Virginia, where he stayed until returning to the Flames.

"Coach Mckay, the staff, the players and the Christian aspect of the university are a huge part of my decision," Rode wrote in a message to the Herald-Leader. "I want to thank Coach (Nate) Valentine, our staff and LCA for helping me and preparing me for this day! I have been extremely blessed to go to a great school like LCA and am really looking forward to my next chapter of life at Liberty University. With that being said I am really excited about this coming school year and basketball season also!"

Rode averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds last season for the Eagles, who won the All "A" Classic state tournament and reached the finals of the 11th Region Tournament, both for the first time in program history. He's a three-time All-City selection — a First-Team pick in 2017 and 2018 — and finished runner-up to Bryan Station senior Eric "Boss" Boone for Lexington Player of the Year honors in March.

Recruiting analyst Evan Daniels on Twitter called Rode "a terrific pickup" for Liberty.

"Kyle Rode is a tough, physical forward that plays the right way and does all the little things," Daniels wrote.

Liberty announced in May that it would join the Atlantic Sun Conference beginning with the 2018-19 school year. It was a member of the Big South Conference for the last 27 years.