Fri Dec 7th, 2018
The Southern Ute Drum
Graduated IHS ’baller earning Wildcat stripes
Stepping onto the court late in a 95-73 rout of Iowa Wesleyan University (NCAA Division III) back on Nov. 17, Kai Roubideaux received just four minutes of playing time but most importantly made his debut as a college-basketball player.
Recording one assist for Denver-based Johnson & Wales University during his quick cameo inside Colorado Springs-based Colorado College’s Reid Arena (the game was part of CC’s Tiger Tip-Off Tournament), Roubideaux was more than anything relieved to simply check in at the scorer’s table for the first time since completing his Ignacio High School career.
“It’s a new experience,” he said, interviewed after JWU’s Day 1 win over George Fox University at CC’s Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 23-24. “It’s a lot quicker, it’s a lot faster, it’s a lot tougher, but I’m open to new experiences and it’s really exciting to me.”
“I give all credit to (IHS assistant) coach Johnny Valdez,” Roubideaux added. “He put in a good word and everything, and I just went with it! It’s an opportunity, so I took it.”
“We love him, you know? I mean, he works hard,” JWU head coach Quintin Grogan said. “The thing that we’re going to use him for this year—his freshman year—is to play against the zone. He’s a good shooter, has a good follow-through, and he’s one of our guys that could really knock down shots.”
And that’s saying something; the Wildcats’ roster has more than a few such individuals, including all-time scoring leader Andrew Romero III, a senior guard and First Team All-A.I.I. (Association of Independent Institutions) pick as a junior averaging 26.3 points per game, and senior guard Jontrell Herman (18.2 ppg in 2017-18).
“Oh, it’s an honor. And a pleasure, really, to see two guys like that,” said Roubideaux. “They’re really good, and to learn from them…it’s really exciting.”
Last season, Johnson & Wales finished 6-21 overall after an 83-80 loss to Northern New Mexico College—Romero burned the Eagles for a career-high 41 points to go with nine rebounds and four assists—but managed a 3-5 mark in A.I.I. play.
Having officially joined the D-III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference back on July 1, giving the SCAC nine core members, JWU stood a vastly-improved 5-1 overall as of Monday, Dec. 3, having lost 73-69 to D-III independent Cal-Santa Cruz—yes, the Banana Slugs—on the 2nd inside the Wildcat Center, with their SCAC opener slated for the 4th at CC.
And though Roubideaux saw no action in the loss, nor the previous day’s 99-87 win over Whittier (Calif.) College, nor in the Wildcats’ two Classic victories (92-82 over Newberg, Ore.-based GFU, 94-87 over University of Texas-Tyler), the 6’0” freshman guard—more so a forward at IHS—knows his time will come.
“Yeah, it’s pretty exciting to see—at a newer level—such game like this,” he said. “Really brings it back to the high-school days when you would be really close with the team.”
“I’m just trying to do whatever coach needs me to do. Handle the ball well, facilitate, bring the ball down whenever I need to, and just help out my teammates.”
“Ball handling, vision, being able to make the pass, and…create shots for himself at this level—that’s the things we’re working on,” Grogan said. “As we go in practice, we’re working on him to become more of a true point guard. We’ve got a lot of development [to do] there, but he’s a hard-working young man and we’re glad to have him. Within the next three years he’s going to get it done.”