Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Roberson Battles Injury in Kentucky, Kansas Workout
ROSELLE, N.J. — If Thursday were just any old day, Tyler Roberson would’ve taken the afternoon off.
But when Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua and Kansas assistant Joe Dooley come watch you work out, it’s not any old day.
So even though he was battling an ankle injury sustained last week, the 6-foot-8 senior forward from Roselle (N.J.) Catholic asked assistant coach Tom Sacks to retrieve his sneakers from his home so he could make the workout.
“He wasn’t even going to play today but he knew that Kentucky and Kansas were coming in,” Sacks told SNY.tv. “So he called me up, I happened to be working in Maplewood. And he says, can I stop at his house and get his stuff. And his mother was heading out, I caught her in the middle of the street, I grabbed some sneakers and shorts and shot over here. Otherwise, we did not want him to play at all.
“I’m glad it was a short workout, and he got up and down well.”
Antigua and Dooley sat courtside while Roberson played five-on-five for about half an hour and then briefly spoke to him afterward.
“I mean, it’s exciting as a player to see all the coaches come out and watch me play,” Roberson said.
Kentucky has yet to officially offer Roberson — who has cut his list to 10 schools, including Kentucky — but head coach John Calipari is expected in Tuesday or Wednesday for a home visit and to watch Roberson again.
“I hope that they will [offer him],” Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff said. “My feeling is that when schools are around this late in the game, there’s normally an offer at some point. But nothing’s been promised to us that there will be an offer.”
Asked if he was expecting an offer, Roberson said, “Hopefully.”
As for Kansas, where he has set a visit for “Late Night in the Phog” Oct. 12, Roberson said, “It was nice to see coach Dooley here to come watch me play.”
Boff said he also expects Kansas head coach Bill Self to be back “in the next two weeks.” Self watched Roberson a year ago during the fall.
Alabama coach Anthony Grant is expected Sunday and Florida coach Billy Donovan is due in Sept. 21.
Earlier this week, Roberson had in-home visits with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard.
“It was nice to see Coach Boeheim watch the workout,” Roberson said.
Of Willard, he said: “He wants me to come in and help the team right away. He wants me to be a big impact for the team.”
Roberson has already set officials to SMU, Syracuse and Kansas, but has yet to decide on his other two.
“I want to set up two more but I’m not sure which schools those are yet,” he said.
As for his style of play, Boff compared Roberson to fellow New Jersey native and Kentucky star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft.
But Sacks doesn’t see it.
“I don’t see no comparison to him and Michael Gilchrist, not too much,” Sacks said. “Tyler’s more of a perimeter-type player. He has a jump shot, he’s probably going to play a three in college. He likes playing outside, he can go inside.
“Gilchrist is more of a guy around the basket. Really hammers the boards, great jumping ability.”
Sacks called Roberson “a poor man’s Kevin Durant.”
“I think he’s gotta get stronger,” he said. “He can always improve his ball-handling and his jump shot. But his motor has gotten so much better. He’s playing hard on every play now. He blocks shots, defends on the perimeter. Great passer. Tyler’s very unselfish, he looks to pass first before he looks to score first. Maybe he needs to turn that around with maturity, and when he does you’re going to have something really special.”
Boff conceded that Kidd-Gilchrist and Roberson aren’t exactly similar, but share some traits in common.
“I think most schools right now are recruiting Tyler as a pure wing, not so much like a step-out four man but more a guy who’s going to be facing the basket at all times,” Boff said. “And I think that would probably be the main difference.
“The similarity is they both work hard, they both have a desire to win. And that’s what drives what they do. And from what I gather I don’t think either has any sense of entitlement. They both just come out and work as hard as they can work every day.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.