TIJUANA, Mexico (WCIA) — 27 total players were invited to the United State Junior National Team training camp in May. Only 12 made the team competing in the U18 Americas Championship, including incoming Illinois freshman Ty Rodgers.

The Illini signee made it through all the cuts and is now with the team in Tijuana as they get ready to start play. He is the first Illini recruit to make the team since Ayo Dosunmu did so in 2018. Rodgers had ultimate confidence he would make it, but that still did not take the anxiety away from trying to represent his country.

“I was super nervous, I don’t even know why I was nervous because I know what I did well and things like that,” Rodgers said. “It was just super nervous, and then once I heard that I made that cut, I was super happy. Because people where I’m from, it’s not usual. It’s a blessing, it’s a blessing for sure. I was super excited. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s good, now we’re in Tijuana and we’re getting ready to play for this gold.”

The US starts play Monday against the Dominican Republic at 5:30 p.m.