HAMPTON — Quite literally, Rodney Bullock stands head and shoulders above nearly everyone in the hallways at Kecoughtan High. They know, of course, that he's the Warriors' superstar basketball player. Anyone who doesn't should be able to study his 6-foot-7 frame and apply deductive reasoning.
But to everyone, he's simply "Rajay," the nickname his mother gave him as a child. He's one of them, never reminding those beneath him (again, speaking literally) how they can watch him next year on ESPN as he begins his college basketball career.
Which is the way Bullock, who avoids drawing attention to himself like a fifth foul, prefers it.
"I'm just a normal kid, a regular kid around here," he said. "Sometimes people look at me differently when I go out somewhere, but at school, everybody treats me like a regular kid. Which is what I am."
Until game night, of course. That's when he stands out, because of style rather than substance.
With a variety of skills, Bullock is the Peninsula District's top scorer at 22.1 points a game. He's averaging a shade under 10 rebounds and three blocked shots a game.
Though he's usually taller than the poor kid guarding him, Bullock is as capable of playing the perimeter as he is the post. In fact, that's probably where he'll spend much of his time at Providence, his college of choice, next winter.
"He's one of those kids who can do a little bit of everything," Kecoughtan coach Ivan Thomas said. "He can shoot, he can dribble, he can score in the post. He can bring the ball up the court and he fills the box score so many different ways."
Take Kecoughtan's 68-52 win over L.C. Bird Saturday night in the VirginiaPreps.com Classic. Bullock had 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting (2-of-4 from the arc) and 16 rebounds (nine offensive, seven defensive). He had three assists, four blocked shots and a steal.
Providence coach Ed Cooley compares Bullock to a pair of former Big East players who made it to the NBA: Jared Dudley of Boston College and Ryan Gomes of the Friars. Before coming to Providence, Cooley coached Dudley and coached against Gomes as an assistant at BC.
"He has that kind of versatility," said Cooley, who first saw Bullock when he came to recruit former Warrior (and current Friar) Josh Fortune. "He can score multiple ways and has a good basketball IQ. Those are the type of players we want at Providence College.
"I don't identify guys by position, I identify them as players. That's one reason why he reminds me of Dudley and Gomes, because those guys were players. I like position-less guys."
Bullock has been told he'll likely play the "four stretch" position, a term for power forwards who play in the post on defense but use their perimeter and ball-handling skills on offense.
It's that mixture of talents that Bullock, almost always the tallest kid in his class, spent hours working on.
"Eventually, when I got to high school, my skills kept getting better and better," he said. "But they're still not where I want them to be."
Bullock, who has 1,357 points in 94 career games, is one of six seniors in the Peninsula District who signed letters-of-intent in November. He grew up playing against most of the others, including Hampton's Anthony Barber and former Phoebus star Troy Williams.
"We've all pushed each other to get better," Bullock said. "It's very competitive in the PD. We've got a special class."
Bullock first came to Thomas' attention as a rising eighth grader. Then about 6-5, he came to open gyms over the summer and made it clear that he'd be owning that floor pretty soon. Thomas occasionally had him practice with the varsity as an eighth grader.
"Actually, I've coached him longer than anybody else," Thomas said. "We have a good bond. My wife thinks of him like family. I've watched him mature from a boy to a man, and I'm proud of him."
WHO: Hampton (10-1, 8-0 PD) at Kecoughtan (9-2, 7-0).
WHEN: 7 p.m.