You don’t have to watch him play for more than two minutes to know that.
But it didn’t always come easy for the former Nixa star.
“I started playing in first grade,” said Ruder. “Mom played basketball and dad tried, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. My first game I didn’t know where to line up on the tip so I was just kind of walking around lost.”
Ruder would meet former Missouri State standout Rodney Perry, helping to take his game to another level.
“I met Rodney Perry in fifth grade and he saw something in me that no one else did and he pushed me pretty hard,” said Ruder. “I’ve played with him ever since then and a lot of my skills are a product of working with him.”
Around that time Ruder would also begin transitioning from being a post player to playing on the perimeter. He would also begin perfecting the stroke that led to him rewriting the Nixa record book.
“I was always the biggest kid on my team, so I didn’t start shooting outside until about sixth grade. I think because I started so late it allowed me to develop a pretty good looking jump shot.”
Over the last four years Ruder helped lead the Eagles to a run never experience before in school history.
Nixa’s 100-16 record, three COC and Blue and Gold Championships and a Final Four appearance are enough to leave Ruder satisfied with what he was able to accomplish as an Eagle.
But, the opportunity to do much of it playing alongside little (big) brother Jacob made it that much more special.
“It is much easier to play with him rather than against him,” said Ruder. “We are really competitive. When we were little our parents would have to pull us apart playing games on the mini-goals. There is nothing like being able to play with your brother, it is an experience that I will never forget.”
Next year Ruder will follow in his mentor’s steps and don the Maroon and White of the hometown Bears.
The opportunity to stay close to home and play in front of his parents was something Ruder didn’t want to pass up.
“It was very important knowing I could be close to home have their support. They can come to every home game if they want. It’s nice knowing that I can drive home and not have to get in a plane.”
Although Missouri State is coming off of its worst season in school history, 10-22, Ruder, along with incoming freshmen Devon Thomas and Tyler McCullough, have given Bears fans a reason to be optimistic about the direction of Missouri State Basketball.
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