Rajon Pierre Rondo was born on February 22, 1986 in Louisville, Kentucky to Amber Rondo and has three siblings: Dymon, William, and Anton. His nickname is Johnny and he has a prized shoe collection.
Rondo played basketball at Louisville's Eastern High School for his freshman, sophomore, and junior years. His coach there was Doug Bibby. His junior year, he averaged 27.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 7.5 apg. He also earned All-State honors and was named the 7th Region Player of the Year. He transferred to Virginia's Oak Hill Academy for his senior year where he averaged 21.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 12.0 apg. Rondo was also named to McDonald's All-American Team in 2004 and scored a total of 14 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in the all-star game. He also participated in the 2004 Jordan Capital Classic game, scoring 12 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. In his senior year, Rondo had one game where he dished out 31 assists, just four away from the all-time national record. He is still in touch with his high school coach and has a strong friendship with him.
When it came time to choose a college, his first choice was the University of Louisville playing for Rick Pitino. Pitino really liked Rondo, but he also had his heart set on Brooklyn, N.Y., point guard Sebastian Telfair, who everyone suspected was going to skip college and enter the NBA draft. Pitino put Rondo on hold and gambled on Telfair, hoping he would put on a Cardinals uniform for at least one season. He wound up losing both players as Telfair did indeed jump directly to the NBA and Rondo got tired of waiting and signed with the University of Kentucky.
His freshman season, he averaged 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists and led the SEC in steals per game (2.56) and set a single-season school record for steals with 87. His sophomore season, he led the SEC in assists with 4.9 per game and ranked second in steals with 2.0 per game, while averaging 11.2 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds. Rondo had trouble fitting in to Tubby Smith's system though which never played to Rondo's strengths and he left school in 2005, after his sophomore season, for the NBA.
He was named to the 2005 USA Men’s U-21 World Championship Team, which traveled to the FIBA World Championships in Argentina and finished fifth there. Rondo averaged 11.0 ppg on 65.5% shooting and 4.5 apg in the eight-game tournament. His 27 steals set a new competition record, while he doubled the single-game steals record with eight versus China and tied the record for field -goals made with nine versus Nigeria. The USA U-21 team claimed a gold medal at the Global Games in Texas in late July.
He was drafted with the 21st pick by Phoenix and then traded to the Celtics on Draft night. Danny said afterward that Rondo was his man all along, even if he had kept the 7th pick which had been traded for Sebastian Telfair, and when he saw him slipping he started to make calls to get a team to pick him for the Celtics. It is interesting that Rondo joined the Celtics along with Sebastian Telfair on draft night because of their somewhat strange history together when both were being recruited for the University of Louisville.
After watching Rondo for one season, it isn't hard to see why Danny really wanted him. Other scouts and GM's have been impressed with him as well. Seattle was trying to demand that he be included in the Ray Allen deal and Danny made it clear that including Rondo was a deal breaker, even for Ray Allen. The same happened when Kevin McHale tried to insist on Rondo being included in the KG trade. Danny has been adamant in wanting to keep him. ESPN magazine said that one Eastern scout expects him to average a double double and another compares him to a nonshooting Gary Payton.
He is extremely fast. He's got a blinding first step that is tough to stop. His long arms and athleticism make him a terrific perimeter defender. He's an amazing rebounder for his size. He plays with poise, sees the floor well and really excels in the open court. He is capable of running the pick and roll quite well. He also has huge hands that help him to control the ball and to get steals and is constantly getting into the passing lanes and forcing turnovers.
As a slasher, Rondo has plenty of potential but he didn't get to show all he can do at Kentucky because of their slow it down style of play. He is extremely difficult to stay in front of and should be able to get to the hoop where he is capable of an array of moves to finish the play. Despite his size he is very capable of finishing with a dunk as well.
He is a tough player who has no problem getting physical to get the job done. He also isn't afraid to take a charge to prevent a score. Many times we saw Rondo take the charge and go flying as he got in front of much bigger players on their way to the basket. Defensively, he can change the complexion of a game because of his long arms and huge hands and his penchant for getting steals that lead to easy baskets.
The one knock against him is that he can't shoot. He improved considerably toward the end of last season, however and he has worked on his jumper all summer. In his own words from the ESPN magazine article:
"All I did was shoot. I shot from everywhere, every day, because I know I'm the one they are going to leave open." "Coach [Doc Rivers] taught me how to see the game two steps ahead - to know when a guy's open, how not to hit him too high or low, and exactly when to pass so a defense can't recover."
Rockinrondo, who posts on Celtics Green is a life long Kentucky Wildcat fan and is familiar with his game in college and this is what he had to say about Rondo:
I can tell you that Rajon Rondo is the most confident player that I have ever seen step on the court at Rupp. Rondo also has the best basketball IQ, that I've seen in my 30 years of watching the Wildcat's, along with being the best ball handler and defender,(he set the all time single season steals record his freshman year) and he hit many last second shots (even some three's) for win's. Rondo has that "IT" factor, that you just can't teach.
Tubby Smith who kept a very short leash on him for two years, is not known for starting freshman, and other than a few times when he was trying to shake up the team, Rondo is the only freshman in Tubby's ten years that started from day one. Rondo just didn't fit well in Tubby's slow it down offense, he is better in a up tempo offense. I think one of the reasons Rondo's shooting is not better, is because in high school and college he could just blow by people for layups and dunks, (he won a few dunk contests in HS and one in college, when he took off just inside the free throw line and jumped over a guy sitting in a chair) he has mad hop's.
Rondo's sophomore year he shot .482% form the field, while averaging 11.2 pts. 6.1 reb. 4.9 ast. and 2.0 steals, while playing only 30 min. a game. All those numbers were way up from his freshman year.
My point is, we don't have to worry about Rondo this year, he will step up and play the whole season like he did, when he got the chance to start at the end of last season.
In Rondo, we have a player with a great work ethic and excellent character. He is soft spoken off the court, but ready to become a vocal leader on the court, running a team with 3 stars and keeping them happy. He is a defensive minded point guard who will do whatever it takes to win. If Doc will let him run an uptempo offense, we should see some great things from Rondo this season. He fits this Celtics team like a "Glove."