Patience is often a rare virtue in recruiting these days, with many prospects jumping at one of the first scholarship offers they receive.
But there is a smaller percentage of the pool – most of them waiting on better options to materialize – content to wait out the bigger schools. Sometimes those programs end up offering scholarships to players they initially didn’t want, often because of unexpected attrition on their roster.
Irmo point guard Jordan Roper is hoping his recruitment works in that way. Widely considered one of the state’s top prospects in the Class of 2012, Roper has an offer from Clemson and a number of other low- to mid-major programs, but Irmo coach Tim Whipple expects his patience will be rewarded with more programs – potentially even South Carolina – jumping on his bandwagon down the road.
“What separates him on the basketball court besides his talent is his work ethic,” said Whipple, who led Irmo to the Class AAAA state championship. “Right now we’re in the weight room working out and he’s in there working harder than anybody.
“His work ethic is putting him in a position where he’s only going to expand his ability to be recruited. I think as this summer moves on and certainly through next year, there are going to be more Division I schools interested in him because he’s going to progress over that time.”
Whipple believes the 6-foot, 165-pounder, who was named the Class AAAA state player of the year last season, may be the most explosive athlete he’s ever coached. Former USC standout B.J. McKie played for Whipple at Irmo.
Roper also has great leadership skills, makes his teammates better and displays a solid mid-range game, Whipple said. Ball handling and three-point shooting are areas that Roper is trying to solidify, which could ultimately determine what type of offers he receives in the coming months.
Analysts are projecting Roper as strictly a point guard, but Whipple believes he has the skill set to play as a combo guard if he’s able to overcome his size limitations. He may struggle to shoot over opposing shooting guards.
“Roper is an interesting prospect,” said Will Gunter of palmettobasketball.com. “He’s an example of what the NCAA is doing to limit a player’s exposure. They are trying to hurt AAU programs by taking coaches off the road in April and not allowing them to watch competitions.
“I think the more big teams that see Jordan Roper, the more big offers he’d have. His only high-major offer is Clemson, and that’s only because they’re an instate school. For USC, he’s not exactly a need with Eric Smith and Brenton Williams on the team. But Roper is a very smart player, has a great feel and has incredible athleticism.”
Gunter believes the only factor hindering Roper’s recruitment is his speed and quickness. He believes some schools may be questioning whether he has the ability to create his own shot for a BCS-level program at only 6-feet tall. Still, Gunter believes more schools would offer if they could see him play in person.
Roper doesn’t seem fazed by the lack of major offers, however. He’s intent on remaining patient throughout the process, meaning he may not sign a National Letter of Intent during November’s early signing period.
“I think there are going to be a lot of schools after next year – I don’t think Jordan is going to make any type of commitment soon – that will say, ‘He can [play for us],’ ” said Whipple, adding that USC continues to recruit him even though the Gamecocks have yet to offer. “His size is a little bit of a limitation, but he’s going to get bigger and stronger. I know if he does that, he’ll be a pretty explosive 6-foot player that a lot of colleges could use.
“I think he’s happy with the schools that have shown interest in him. I think it’ll go all the way to the end. I just don’t see him committing early.”