TRINITY — Dribbling around the gym, sharing a few laughs with friends, Brandon Roberts randomly made an executive decision.
Move practice to the opposite side of the gym.
“Trying to get your mojo back?” West Morgan coach Mike Henson asked his star player as the team jogged across midcourt.
“Oh yeah,” Roberts laughed. “Lost it for a second.”
Clearly, Roberts was in his element.
Refreshing — these days, it’s the one word that defines him.
Now more than two months into the season at his new school, it’s obvious that Roberts’ passion for basketball has been recharged.
Roberts is comfortably at home with his new teammates. Good-natured ribbing and frequent jokes fill the downtime at practice. He often says, “West Morgan is the best thing that happened to me.”
Roberts played at Austin before transferring to West Morgan midway through last season because of a decision made by his family.
“Everyone here at West Morgan, they’ve all gone out of their way to make me feel like family since day one,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t ask for better surroundings, whether it be with basketball, school or anything else. Being around the people here, they bring you down and keep you grounded.”
While discussing his new team, Roberts’ body language said his comments were sincere.
His play on the court doesn’t dispute this assessment, either.
Roberts is reaching new heights at West Morgan, averaging 33.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.5 steals a game.
“Brandon can do amazing things with a basketball,” West Morgan guard Peyton Mullican said. “He’s a good scorer, but he’s also a great team player. He does whatever our team needs, no questions asked.”
Listing the strengths of Roberts’ game would take more than a simple synopsis: polished ball-handling, elite athleticism and lots of basketball savvy.
At 6-foot-1, Roberts is projected in college as a possible point guard. And with good court vision, along with strong passing and ball-handling skills, he has the tools to succeed in that role.
But Roberts’ abilities show he can thrive as more than a traditional point guard.
Roberts’ first two steps are difficult for even the best defenders to guard. He can finish at the rim with both hands and can score from all three levels of the floor. Through 21 games, Roberts is shooting 56 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Brandon is a special athlete,” Henson said. “I’ve known Brandon for years. … Watched him play as he came up through middle school. Everything about his game has improved over the years, and now he’s doing things that even make me step back and say, ‘Wow.’
“He definitely has put in the time to reach this point, and because of that hard work, he’s going to get an opportunity to have his education paid for while playing basketball. You can’t beat that.”
Roberts entered the season as the area’s top basketball prospect. But in recent weeks — with every astounding scoring line — his recruitment has picked up steam.
Roberts currently has a list of college offers from several mid-major programs, including North Carolina-Wilmington, Murray State, Jacksonville, Northeastern, East Carolina and Samford. A few Southeastern Conference programs, including Alabama and Auburn, contacted West Morgan this week about Roberts.
“It’s picked up recently,” Roberts said. “But we’ll sort all of that stuff out later. Right now, I’m just focused on my team and our season. It’s important to stay humble, and the people I have around me here, they help keep me grounded.”
For Roberts, the season has been special. He etched his name into the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s record book this week when he scored 51 points in a win against Westminster Christian — tying him at 40th for most points in a single game. According to the AHSAA record book, only 48 players have broken the 50-point barrier.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the state,” Henson said. “What he’s done this season is nothing short of phenomenal. But I’m probably a little bit biased because I’ve known Brandon since he was young and love him like a son. He’s a great kid. There’s no debating that.”
West Morgan forward Austin Hulbert agreed.
“Brandon is an incredible player,” he said. “Some of the things we’ve seen him do this season has been amazing. I’m glad he’s on our team. He’s been a great teammate.”
Roberts takes all the praise in stride. Right now, he simply is enjoying his final high school season — pouring in huge scoring numbers while playing alongside a new set of guys he gladly calls friends.
“I love my team,” Roberts said. “It goes all the way back to my first day here. When I first met them, they were really cool and encouraging. We’re all just enjoying the season and trying to get in position to make a run, and we can make a run with this team.”
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|