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Roberts begins final season at UNC-Asheville

Posted: November 19, 2014 - 12:17am  |  Updated: November 19, 2014 - 12:37am

Jaleel Roberts might not be the best basketball player to come out of Columbia County, but he is certainly the biggest.

The 7-foot, 235-pounder began his final season on the collegiate level and is hoping to finally live up to the promise he had as a young prep player. Roberts was an All-County performer in 2008-09 as a junior for Evans, and seemed primed for a big senior campaign. However, that never happened, at least not at Evans. Roberts made the decision to transfer to a prep school in Greensboro, N.C. While, at the time I hated to see him leave, it would afford him an extra year of high school basketball before embarking on a college career. At the time of his transfer he stood 6-10 and was starting to get calls from some big time college basketball programs. He played sparingly in his first season at Greensboro Day School, but started and played well as a senior. The big time offers however never materialized. He had several offers from smaller programs and chose to attend UNC Asheville.

While he did not start and appeared in only 28 games in his first two season with the Bulldogs, he has had some great moments. As a freshman in 2011-12 he blocked a shot vs. U Conn, he drained his first field goal against N.C. State, and he scored 12 points, grabbed seven boards, and blocked four shots in a win over Mars Hill.

As a sophomore, he had seven points, six boards, and blocked a pair of shots in a win over Montreat. He also shot 63.3 percent from the field over his first two seasons.

Last season, however, is when Roberts really started to be a consistent contributor. He played in 31 of 32 games and made three starts. For the season, he averaged 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent (41 of 82) from the field and 69.4 percent (34 of 49) from the free-throw line.

He also began to use his stature to his advantage. In his first two seasons, Roberts managed only 13 block shots in 29 games. However, in 2013-14 he finished second on the team with 38 blocked shots in his 31 appearances. So far as a senior, he has played well. He grabbed six boards, blocked a shot, and collected a steal in 19 minutes in the season-opening loss to Wake Forest.

Through two games, he leads UNC Asheville with seven rebounds per game despite averaging only 15.5 minutes. I have a feeling you are going to see Roberts play a key role for the Bulldogs this season. And, at 7 feet tall and ever improving, a professional career overseas is a distinct possibility.

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