Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Roberts was once a committed recruit heading to St. John's. Tuesday, he will face the Red Storm as he gears up for St. Joseph's in the 1st round of the NIT
In November of 2009, then a senior at St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey, Ron Roberts committed his future to Norm Roberts and the St. John's Red Storm. However, Roberts didn't know was that his commitment would be short lived.
As he finished his senior year, Norm Roberts was fired and Steve Lavin was brought in. Lavin, known for his love of athletic-wing players, didn't have any scholarships to offer besides that of Roberts, so the two met and Roberts was let go of his letter of intent in April of 2010.
Dwayne Polee received the scholarship, a raw dynamic wing who fit Lavin's plans and national focus. But the talented wing player and his family were concerned about his role, and he had a sick mother.... we know how that worked out.
On the other hand, Roberts, who had once said he was modeling himself after Rudy Gay and was advertised as a combo forward, is mostly a paint presence these days.
He is a strong presence for Martelli's Hawks. Now a junior and standing 6'8", 220 pounds, Roberts is averaging career-highs in points (11) and rebounds (8), leading the Hawks to a 18-13 record in the A-10 and a 4-seed in the NIT.
The forward has been a monster on the inside for St. Joe's and has ended up on ESPN's Top 10 plays on numerous occasions with emphatic dunks.
His best game this season was against then-No. 20 Notre Dame when Roberts scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a winning effort.
For St. John's, Roberts could have been an important senior role player on such a young squad, but now he will be imposing his will against a lanky 200 pound JaKarr Sampson.
St. John's, as of the last three years, has become a very flexible, versatile, athletic team that struggles on the boards against opposing teams and have shown they can get beat up on the offensive glass.
But Roberts big frame and low post moves won't be the only thing the Red Storm have to worry about. Another player to watch will be C.J. Aiken at the center position. Aiken is an inch shorter taller than Chris Obekpa but weighs 20 pounds less. Aiken is averaging 10.6 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds.
The guard play will be interesting to watch, as well.
Carl Jones and Langston Galloway are 1-2 in the scoring, combining for 28.2 points per game. Both shoot the ball over 40% and are making 35+% of their 3-point attempts. Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch, the presumable starters for the Red Storm backcourt, are averaging 16 points combined and their shooting numbers are far from favorable.
How will Lavin try to match up against a strong St. Joseph's side?