The development of players in college is always a lot of fun to watch, even more so when a player really starts to fulfill the potential they showed early in their career. Ronald Roberts, Jr. came to St. Joseph’s University 4 years ago as an athletic big man, but a player who needed to develop the game to go with this athletic ability.
This past season, Roberts’ development all seemed to come together, establishing him as one of the Atlantic 10’s best players. Roberts averaged over 14 points per game on a very strong 61% shooting, while also adding over 7 rebounds per game, and he was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Third Team. Roberts’ emergence also helped catapult St. Joe’s to the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Looking back, Roberts can see how his game was built over the 4 seasons. “During my time at St. Joseph’s, my game was able to change in a lot of ways,” said Roberts. “Each year, Coach (Phil Martelli) gave me more freedom, and I was able to become more comfortable on the perimeter and improve my shooting. I just wanted to go out there and give all the energy I had.”
Roberts also gave Martelli a lot of credit for his development over his college career. “Coach taught us what it takes to be very good,” explained Roberts. “Even when the team was struggling, we understood that he knew from his past teams what it takes to be great, and by trusting him, we all got better.”
Roberts’ NCAA career came to an end in one of the more memorable games of the NCAA Tournament, a Round of 64 overtime loss to the eventual National Champion, Connecticut. “The experience and the atmosphere were great,” said Roberts, who was making his first NCAA appearance. “We were grateful to be given the opportunity in the postseason and we ended up giving the National Champs their best game.”
When the season ended, Roberts was able to secure an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, one of 64 seniors competing in front of a gym full of NBA personnel. “It was a great experience,” said Roberts. “Getting the chance to play with so many different guys, and being reunited with guys I had even played AAU ball with.”
Roberts’ team lost in the Championship game, but not for any lack of production on Roberts’ part. In the title game, Roberts scored 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds, including 9 offensive rebounds, and blocked 2 shots. It was one of the most dominant performances of the week.
“I was glad that I could show that I could play with guys from some of the bigger schools,” said Roberts. “What conference you play in doesn’t matter as long as you go out and put the hard work in.”
Now, Roberts is preparing to show NBA teams what he can do in individual team workouts, and he has a good idea of why teams are interested in him. “I think my athleticism for my size separates me from a lot of other big guys,” explained Roberts. “I am a high-motor player and never stop working out there, whether it’s rebounding, running the floor, and getting hustle baskets.”
He knows he also has some areas he needs to work on to separate him from other players, and Roberts is already at work. “I know I need to be able to show that I can shoot the ball, especially mid-range and further,” said Roberts. “Also, I’m working on becoming a better defender out on the perimeter since I spent most of my time in college playing in the post.”
While Roberts would love to make an immediate impact on the court for whatever team he plays for, he knows no matter what he could help a team in different ways. “I can come in for any team and make players better in practice just by going out and hustling,” said Roberts. “I will come in, work hard, and get better every day.”
Roberts is a very genuine personality, which should be appealing to team personnel. “I’m a hard worker and I’m not going to cause any problems,” said Roberts. “My focus is on helping whatever team I play for be a winner,”
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