If you tuned in to an NBA 2K League broadcast during Season 1 and caught a Blazer5 Gaming contest, chances are their boisterous MVP center, OneWildWalnut, caught your attention. If not him, then the team’s ultra-intense point guard, Mama Im Dat Man, who was also an MVP candidate, made an impression.
What the casual viewer might have missed was that sitting alongside the charismatic pair was a third player making his presence known on the court just as strongly as his MVP nominated teammates
That player was Dat Boy Shotz. And he now has a team of his own.
Connor Rodrigues, known by his handle Dat Boy Shotz, was the first overall pick in the NBA 2K League Expansion Draft by Hawks Talon GC. He too had a season to remember for B5 Gaming, the team that finished the regular season with a 12-2 record, tops in the league.
Averaging 19.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, the expansion franchise Hawks Talon GC saw Shotz as the best available unprotected player and selected him as the face of their franchise. Blazer5 Gaming was only allowed to protect two players in the first transaction window and opted to retain OneWildWalnut and MamaImDatMan.
While some would expect the soft-spoken Rodrigues to be nervous for the transition from the third member of a Big 3 to franchise leader, it is clear the Lemoore, CA native is ready for the challenge in Atlanta.
“It feels great to have had Atlanta select me and for them to choose me to lead this new team. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.” Rodrigues proudly stated. “I learned a lot from Season 1 with Blazer5. Not only just how a team should be run or how a team should get along with each other, but I was on a team with two guys (Walnut & Mama) that were in the limelight a lot and I was able to really learn a lot from there. How to handle yourself with the media and how to be a great role model for other people & players. I’m hoping to bring that to Atlanta.”
Shotz was effusive in his praise for all of his Blazer5 teammates and their work over the course of the year to develop a strong sense of brotherhood and team culture. This work both on and off the court built a culture that was directly responsible a tournament title at THE TURN as well the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA 2K League Playoffs. The 24-year-old hopes to bring this mindset of togetherness and teamwork to his new organization in Atlanta.
“We had great individual players on Blazer5, but we also came together to become a great team. On the court and off it. I think that was the biggest thing I learned from Season 1 that I hope to bring with me to the Hawks.” Shotz explained.“Having that culture, especially off the court. We were all like brothers, we all really got along on and off the court. We were always there for each other. All 21 teams are going to want to win. But building that team culture is the most important key to this league and to success.”
With the team’s second pick in the NBA 2K League Expansion Draft at No. 8 overall, Hawks Talon GC selected Devon Peek, known by his gamertag ARSONAL x, formerly of Celtics Crossover Gaming. ARSONAL x, who averaged a double-double with 18.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, will form a very formidable duo with Shotz that the organization will look to build around going forward. Shotz spoke highly of his new teammate and was optimistic of the things the pair could do together on the court.
“I’ve known ARSONAL x since 2K12 from just playing 2K online together. Since he was like 13 and I was 15. So we’ve known each other for a long time,” he said. “I’m very familiar with his game. I consider him a guy who we can put on the inside and let him do his work in there. Most people are used to me playing inside from last season, but I know I can play outside as well. I definitely feel like I can still compliment him. I look forward to showing off my versatility next year.”
Shotz already has his eyes set on Season 2. He’s looking forward to taking on the additional leadership responsibility and to the weekly competition that he describes missing so much. The passion in his voice when he explains just how much he misses the weekly games against fellow top talent displays the leadership and drive that resulted in him being selected 1st overall in the expansion draft.
“There’s a lot to look forward too in Season 2 honestly,” he said. “Just playing every week, that’s what I miss the most. It was a lot of fun man. That competition. Season 1 was great and Season 2 should be even better. Just all the new storylines that will be created. Like for example me going to the hawks, when we play Blazer5 that is going to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of guys from Season 1 on new teams and we don’t even know the new guys who I’m sure will have tons of interesting stories. All the rematches from last season, players playing their old teams. There’s going to be a lot of awesome storylines and I can’t wait to watch them playout.”
Rodrigues takes great pride in being chosen as the face of a new franchise. And while he doesn’t take the responsibility lightly, he still welcomes it with open arms. He looks forward to the transition from the soft-spoken, supporting player to the face of a brand new franchise. His obvious passion for the game and desire to be great is a fortunate sign for Hawks Talon GC.
“By selecting me first, they put a lot of trust in me and I’m ready for the challenge.”
It’s now his time to make some noise.