Almost every college football coach in the eastern United States has made a recruiting run at Lexington’s Shaq Roland. A can’t-miss prospect, he’s expected to star at the next level.
But his future is clouded by his plans to play two sports in college. Also a prep standout on the hardwood, Roland had a number of basketball-only scholarship offers before cutting his list of finalists to South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
But does he have the same type of ceiling in basketball as he does in football? That’s a complicated question, according to respected hoops recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons.
“Shaq Roland is phenomenal,” said Gibbons, who evaluated the 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard at a clinic earlier this year. “The question I proposed to him is, ‘Shaq, you are a standout in basketball, but you’ve got to decide which sport you want to play at the next level. Is it football or basketball?’ "
Roland said he is definitely playing football in college, and he'll decide this summer if he’ll play both sports (USC and Florida have offered in both, and Alabama is also looking at him in basketball, he said).
“He can sign for football and play both, but obviously he’ll devote most of his time to football," Gibbons said. "Or he can choose to focus on basketball. I told him, ‘You are an outstanding prospect right now.’ ”
Gibbons believes Roland has the potential to be a major contributor for a power-conference school in basketball. However, he doesn’t believe he can expect that kind of production while he’s splitting time between both sports.
Right now Gibbons projects Roland as simply an athletic guard. He believes that with work, especially on his ball-handling skills, Roland could become a dynamic combo guard that could both run the offense and contribute as a penetrating and perimeter scorer.
Will Gunter of palmettobasketball.com doesn’t necessarily see the same translation of Roland’s skill set.
“He’s an interesting prospect because of his athleticism, but if you look at him as a pure basketball prospect, he’s still around 6-2 at the end of the day,” he said. “And he doesn’t shoot the ball well enough from the perimeter to scare you. But he’s such a great athlete attacking the rim that he’s a player a lot of high-majors would probably take because of his ability to score.
“He’s probably not your typical small forward or wing player. He’s not a point guard at the college level, so he’d need to be more of a shooting guard.”
Lexington coach Bailey Harris agrees with Gunter’s assessment, saying that he believes Roland will settle into a nontraditional shooting guard role that allows him the freedom to drive to the basket with regularity. He believes that Roland’s passing is underrated, a factor that could help him fill a combo role if needed.
“What he’s got to work on most is his handling,” Harris said. “He gets a little loose with it sometimes. I think he’s definitely a wing. People say he’s only 6-2, but I think his athleticism and his leaping ability make up for an inch or two if you like him there.
“He’s got to put on a little more strength. I wouldn’t call it a weakness, but at the next level, against some of those big bodies he’ll have to play against, he’ll need to get stronger. That’s probably goes for both sports.”
Shaq Roland interview