J’Wan Roberts makes it a point after every practice to go around the gym and dap his teammates, the coaches, student managers, and everyone else associated with the program. In 25 years of doing this, I’ve never met anyone else that does that. But that’s J’Wan. He’s humble, funny, and has taken on the role of mentor for freshman Jarace Walker.
But over the last few games, J’Wan’s game has started coming on. Eight points and ten rebounds at SMU, 20 and 12 against Memphis, and Wednesday night against Tulane, Roberts exploded for a career-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds. His teammates feed him and he keeps getting hungrier. That hasn’t stopped him from being the ultimate teammate, though.
I didn’t make the postgame press conference following the Tulane game. I was handling other duties and focused on what was happening on the court. After the crowds filed out of Fertitta, Jarace Walker was working on his shot. It’s clear he’s been frustrated with his shot over the last few games and was getting in extra work as Kelvin Sampson, Marcus Sasser, and Jamal Shead met with the media.
J’Wan made a point to come back to the court to find his roommate Jarace. He went over to encourage Jarace, made him laugh, and zoomed around with his boundless energy, taking photos with a young fan and coming over to ask if I needed anything.
You have to understand something: athletes don’t do that. They don’t volunteer for more media work. They begrudgingly view media as part of the gig, something that is endured, not enjoyed. But J’Wan went out of his way to ask if he could help. I’d like to think we have formed a bond this season, doing goofy interviews after practice and through his work with HOUNIL. But on his night, he asked if he could do more.
That’s the teammate that the #1 Houston Cougars know they have in J’Wan. As Kelvin Sampson starts calling his number more and more, he shows his humble side again. And he also shows why he might be the easiest guy to root for on a team of really likable guys.
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