Ex-skateboarder Roberts is rolling on St. Joe's court

Ronald Roberts Jr. of St. Joseph's is known for his dunks but has worked on improving his perimeter game.
Ronald Roberts Jr. of St. Joseph's is known for his dunks but has worked on improving his perimeter game. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff)
Posted: November 06, 2013

The St. Joseph's basketball community is extremely happy that 6-foot-8 senior Ronald Roberts Jr. eventually outgrew skateboarding.

Even though he grew up in a basketball family - his mother and father played professionally overseas - Roberts' sport of choice for much of his youth was skateboarding.

He said he really didn't become serious about basketball until his sophomore year at Bayonne (N.J.) High, which he attended before transferring to St. Peter's Prep for his final two years.

"I was pretty good [at skateboarding] and used to do all sorts of tricks," Roberts said with a smile. "I stopped because my feet started getting too big, and I was starting to get taller and began playing basketball, was decent, and stuck with it."

His parents had hoped all along he would play basketball, but neither his father, Ronald Roberts Sr., nor his mother, Dania, wanted to push their son.

Now that he's playing, his parents offer critiques.

"My mom is always asking me how many rebounds I got," Roberts said, laughing.

His mother should know a good rebounder when she sees one. Dania Roberts was a 5-foot-11 power forward for the Dominican Republic national team. She met her husband when he was playing basketball in the Dominican Republic.

"She was a beast on the boards," Roberts Sr. said.

So with such a strong basketball background, nobody was happier when Roberts Jr. hung up his skateboard than his parents.

"We never really pushed him to play basketball and wanted him to fall in love with the game the way we did," said Roberts Sr., who played two seasons at Oklahoma University and nine years professionally. "And he fell in love with the game."

The younger Roberts' quiet nature belies his explosive game. At 6-8 and 225 pounds, he is often too quick for forwards who have to guard him. His leaping ability is off the charts, and he has been known to throw down some hellacious dunks.

Most of all, he has continued his steady improvement, increasing his scoring and rebounding each year. As a freshman he averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds. Roberts averaged 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds when he was named Atlantic Ten sixth man of the year as a sophomore.

He averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds last year.

"In my 19 years of head coaching at St. Joseph's, Ron has embraced the college experience and opportunity to get better as much as anybody," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "His family deserves a lot of credit because they didn't send him here with all the answers."

Martelli said that Roberts will play professionally somewhere, but the level is still to be determined.

Despite his quickness, Roberts feels he isn't big enough to play power forward beyond college. So that means continuing to develop his small-forward skills, first and foremost his shooting.

"I've been playing down low my whole life, and if I want to go to the next level, whether it is the NBA or overseas, I have to keep working on my dribbling and shooting," he said.

Roberts has hoisted thousands of jumpers in the offseason and said he is more confident from the perimeter.

He said thoughts of playing professionally will have to wait. His only goal is to try to help St. Joseph's earn a bid to the NCAA tournament after consecutive years of competing in the NIT.

"It's my last year, and I would like nothing better than the NCAA tournament," he said. "We have all been working hard toward that goal."

Last season the Hawks went 18-14 and earned a second straight NIT berth, but it was considered a disappointing year after high preseason expectations. St. Joseph's was the preseason pick to win the Atlantic Ten but finished 8-8 in the league and lost in the second round of the conference tournament.

The Hawks season ended with a 63-61 loss to visiting St. John's in the NIT.

This year the expectations are moderate, at least from the outside. The Hawks were chosen fifth in the Atlantic Ten preseason poll.

Roberts won't make any predictions, other than to say that he likes what he has seen in preseason.

While Roberts is all-in on basketball, he admits to missing skateboarding.

"I just loved it," he said.

Now his passion for skateboarding has been transferred to basketball, where Roberts hopes the best at St. Joseph's is yet to come.


St. Joseph's at a Glance

Last year: 18-14; 8-8 in Atlantic Ten, tied for eighth.

Coach: Phil Martelli (338-237 in 18 years at St. Joseph's).

ROSTER

No.   Name   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Year   

0   Evan Maschmeyer   G   6-3   200   Jr.   

10   Langston Galloway   G   6-2   202   Sr.   

11   Daryus Quarles   F   6-6   186   Sr.   

13   Ronald Roberts Jr.   F   6-8   225   Sr.   

15   Isaiah Miles   F   6-7   223   So.   

20   Brendan Casper   F   6-6   215   Fr.   

22   Kyle Molock   G   6-2   192   R-Fr.   

24   Chris Wilson   G   6-3   210   Jr.   

25   Eric Kindler   F   6-5   223   Jr.   

32   Papa Ndao   F   6-8   225   Jr.   

34   Javon Baumann   F   6-8   257   R-Fr.   

40   Jai Williams   F   6-9   275   Fr.   

41   Colin Kelly   F   6-5   205   Sr.   

43   DeAndré Bembry   F   6-6   200   Fr.   

45   Halil Kanacevic   F   6-8   255   Sr.   

SCHEDULE

November

9 at Vermont. . . 7

13 Marist. . . 7

16 Creighton. . . 7

28 vs. LSU#. . . 8:30

29 vs. Memphis

or Siena#. . . 5:30 or 8

December

1 TBD#

4 at Temple. . . 8

7 Villanova. . . 6

18 Drexel. . . 7

21 at Loyola, Md.. . . 3

29 Boston University. . . 5

31 Binghamton. . . 2

January

4 Denver. . . 2

8 at Massachusetts. . . 7

11 at George Mason. . . 8

15 Duquesne. . . 7

18 at Penn. . . 7

22 Rhode Island. . . 7

25 at Richmond. . . 4

29 at Dayton. . . 7

February

1 Massachusetts. . . 6

5 St. Louis. . . 7

8 Va. Commonwealth. . . 8

15 at La Salle. . . 11 a.m.

19 at Rhode Island. . . 7

22 Fordham. . . 2

25 Dayton. . . 7

March

1 at St. Bonaventure. . . 3

5 at George Washington. . . 9

9 La Salle. . . 4

12-16 A-10 Tournament (Barclays Center, Brooklyn)

Home games in bold.

# - Old Spice Classic, Orlando


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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