JQ Roberts has already built a reputation for his work ethic, and even a major milestone in his life achieved on Wednesday night didn’t disrupt his focus.
Just hours after his first college high major scholarship offer, he was up at the crack of dawn and ready to grind. He returned a message to me at five in the morning.
“Yes sir, I had a workout in the morning and then we are on our way to a visit,” Roberts told The Daily Hoosier.
That first high major offer for Roberts came from a program he knows well. The Bloomington, Ind. native goes to North High School, less than three miles from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
IU head coach Mike Woodson and assistant Dane Fife stopped by North’s open gym on Wednesday to watch and speak with Roberts, and ultimately to extend him a scholarship offer.
“It was a good experience,” Roberts said. “They were able to come to my open gym last night. My mom was able to be in attendance, she’s an IU alumna so especially for her it was a great time and I was just happy.”
Woodson and Fife weren’t in Bloomington as Roberts finished a productive 2020-21 season as a sophomore at North, but they did watch him this summer playing for Adidas sponsored Indiana Elite. It was on the summer circuit where Roberts started to flourish, and the new IU staff took notice.
“They really liked my overall play during the AAU season,” Roberts said. “They hadn’t seen me that much before so they came out to watch me a little bit and they liked my intensity, my passion on the court, talking on offense and defense, rebounding, pushing it up-and-down the court and being able to guard multiple positions.”
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Roberts has more than a half dozen other offers and he is on the radar of several high majors. He has visits lined up to Butler, Illinois, Xavier and Cincinnati. The fact that he was born and raised in Bloomington will of course be part of his recruitment story, but Roberts is trying his best to stay level-headed about the process.
“Of course I’m interested in IU, growing up I went to some of the games,” he told The Daily Hoosier. “But I’m just making sure I am keeping it neutral and looking at every college and what they have to offer. Whatever feels right and wherever I fit the best, that’s the college I will choose.”
Roberts has had several interactions with the IU staff recently, included visits for Hoosier Hysteria and the Cincinnati football game. He especially likes the way they are open and honest.
“I really like the coaching staff,” Roberts said. “When I was at Hoosier Hysteria I was able to talk to each one individually, and the things they said, it really felt good. Being able to talk to Coach Woodson, and having a conversation with him about my game — he was really straightforward and tells you things you might not want to hear, but in all reality he makes you better and gives you things to work on.”
What are those things the staff says that Roberts doesn’t want to hear? One area they want him to stay on top of is his emerging ability as a perimeter shooter.
“Mostly shooting, making sure I stay consistent,” Roberts said when asked about the constructive feedback he gets from the IU staff. “They said they know I can shoot but they said they want to make sure I stay at least in the same area as I am now when it comes to making shots.”
Of course in recruiting, the analysis goes both ways. Roberts will likely end up with multiple high major opportunities. He talked about what he likes about the program and the playing style he expects to see at Indiana.
“Really just flexibility. With my size and playing style I feel I can play multiple positions,” Roberts said. “Coach Woodson was talking about how on his team he doesn’t want people to be in a box, and limited to playing in the post or wing. He wants guys all around who can run the floor and just be basketball players.”
As a 6-foot-7 forward with perimeter skills who can guard multiple positions, Roberts fits that description of the modern versatile player Woodson is seeking. But he also knows that this Indiana offer, as special as it was, is just the beginning.
“It felt really good (to get the offer), but it also pushed me to work even harder than I have,” he said. “It showed me that all of the work can pay off. It just pushes me to get in the gym and do the best I can.”
And back in the gym he was this morning.
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