While it’s tough to tell identical twins Austin and Ashton Roper apart off the court, on the court it gets a little easier.
Playing for the Augusta Christian Lions, who they’ve helped lead to an 18-5 record, seniors Austin (No. 22) and Ashton (No. 33) have different roles and styles.
“I’d say he’s probably the best defender we have on the team,” said Ashton. “Every time we play somebody, he’s always guarding the best player. It doesn’t really matter how tall the player is or anything. And my strong point is really shooting from behind the arc, shooting 3s and stuff like that.”
Austin, who averages six points per game, likes to get the ball into the hands of shooters, like his brother (10.8 points per game), who is second on the team with 41 3-pointers.
“Most of the time I like to drive and kick and get teammates that I know can shoot the ball and make sure they can shoot the ball and have enough space to shoot the ball,” Austin said.
Head coach Marty Griffin, who stresses that they need to have different haircuts so he can tell them apart, appreciates what they bring to the team.
“They lead by example more than anything, how they carry themselves,” said Griffin. “Humble. I can’t say enough about their character. They’re going to be sorely missed next year just simply because they’re well-rounded players, they defend hard, they handle the ball well, just all the intangibles.”
The pair grew up playing basketball and were influenced by their father, Anthony, who played at Georgetown and Savannah State. He let them follow their own path, however, in discovering their passion for the game.
“He let us venture out into other sports, so we tried soccer and tried karate, and then once he found out we kind of liked basketball, he started taking us to the gym and working on us more,” Austin said.
Austin likes the competitiveness of basketball and having to work toward improvement, while Ashton enjoys all aspects of the game.
“I just like playing basketball and getting out there on the court, making the fans happy and all that stuff,” said Ashton. “Coming together as a team and creating a family away from family.”
The two started out playing at Greenbrier their freshman and sophomore seasons before heading to Augusta Christian.
“Nothing was wrong with Greenbrier. I mean, we still go to all the Greenbrier games and still have fun with our Greenbrier friends,” Ashton said. “We just needed a better focused atmosphere.”
This year’s success on the court has come from experience.
“Last year we hadn’t really jelled together as a team, and everybody was still figuring out each other’s weaknesses and strengths,” said Austin. “This year it just all kind of flowed together.
“I don’t want to say we were too young, but we weren’t as mature as we are this year.”
Both want to play basketball at the next level together and are up front with college recruiters.
“We’re kind of a package deal,” said Austin. “The coaches that we talk to, we make sure we let them know we kind of want to go to the same college and they all seem fine with that.”