It started years ago.
Rashard Odomes and C.J. Bobbitt first ran into each other on the basketball court in the seventh grade, playing on the same Boys & Girls Club of America team.
Instantly, their talents were evident as the pair helped guide the squad to the league championship.
Now, as seniors, the Copperas Cove and Harker Heights standouts are established, elite players, and after years as both teammates and rivals, they end their high school careers as two of the best the area has ever seen, sharing the title of Killeen Daily Herald All-Area Co-Most Valuable Players.
But their trek to this point began with a title celebration years ago.
“I remember that game to this day,” Odomes, a swingman for the Bulldawgs, said. “It just showed what the future was going to look like for both of us.”
Soon, the two, who also played AAU ball together, would elevate their games to unparalleled heights, cementing themselves as the top players in their respective programs’ histories while embarking in numerous on-court battles along the way.
Bobbitt, who plays forward for the Knights, remembers the first time he encountered Odomes after their championship run as middle schoolers.
“I started to look at him and think, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to be fighting for four years,’” he said.
And they did.
To hear Bobbitt describe what it is like to guard Odomes is weird because he sounds like someone describing what it is like to guard him.
“It’s difficult because he’s a lefty,” Bobbitt said. “All the people you play against in (District 12-6A), like the main players, they’re usually right-handed.
“So he’s left-handed and then he’s 6-6, pretty much handling like a guard — he was going to be tough.”
Odomes averaged 25.2 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.7 steals and shot 58.3 percent from the floor this season, leading Copperas Cove to its first playoff victory in decades. He was also named all-district MVP and landed on the all-state team.
“Knowing that I’m going out with a lot of accomplishments like this feels really good,” Odomes said, “but I’m glad I was able to help Copperas Cove as a program.
“A lot more happened than just my individual stuff. I’m more proud about the team doing things that has never happened in Copperas Cove history.”
Like Odomes, Bobbitt has caused plenty of headaches for area coaches in recent years, earning KDH All-Area Newcomer of the Year honors as a sophomore and All-Area First-Team honors as a junior.
Bobbitt ended his tenure as one of the most accomplished players in Harker Heights history with well over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his lengthy career.
But most importantly, Bobbitt won.
The Knights won back-to-back district titles during the last two years and equaled the longest playoff run in program history last season with a trip to the regional quarterfinals.
For a player who, early in his career, set out to prove that he deserved his starting spot rather than being awarded it by his father, who is the Knights’ head coach, the long list of accolades felt like a nice closing argument for his critics.
“That’s really what mainly pushed me,” Bobbitt said, “and then I got real close to God. Then, just praying every day, every night, because I was scared of what I had on me.
“So, I just got closer to Him, and then He just showed me the way.”