Jaleel Roberts, UNC Asheville, 7'0, 225lbs
Jaleel Roberts once recorded a blocks and rebounds double double in only 27 minutes, a game in which he scored only 4 points. That line is perhaps a suitable microcosm of him as a player. A legit seven footer with good length and little poise, Roberts is athletic, springy, very interested in making an impact, and also quite clumsy.
A prodigious fouler, Roberts's defense is all done via his shot blocking, a skill born out of his very long arms. These blocks are mostly of the help defense variety, but with his length, Roberts is also able to get blocks on his own player in man-to-man post defense. He fouls so often (2.9 fouls in 19.7 minutes per game, down from 2.2 fouls in 12.2 minutes per game as a junior) for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is the fact that he jumps in the air at every opportunity. Roberts and his wild flailing arms are a pest on the interior, but he undermines it slightly with the fouls, trying to block everything whether it's a good idea or not and always following through to hit the driver on the shot.
It would have helped Roberts had he played on a team with guards that could even occasionally stop dribble penetration, which rather exposed him defensively. Nevertheless, on the end of the court at which he is best, Roberts is frustratingly imperfect. Easily pushed around on the interior, Roberts can be attacked by stronger post players and concedes the position, the foul, or both. Roberts also shows poor perimeter footwork when hedging, another reason for his foul problems, and can't seem to keep his arms straight up nor move his feet fast enough. He tries to box out, but hasn't the core or lower body strength to do so especially effectively. On the glass in the paint, his length and leap offset some of this, and he is genuinely a deterrent of a presence around the basket while being a capable rebounder. His presence speeds up opponents. Yet he also really needs to slow down himself. Better strength, discipline and awareness is sorely needed for Roberts to get to where he should be.
On the other end, Roberts shows little in the way of offensive instincts, but nevertheless contributes offensively despite the same sort of imperfections. With his aforementioned lack of strength, Roberts cannot back anyone down and efforts to do so are futile. He rarely looks to score, and although he is a very willing passer, he has not shown much ability at being one. But what Roberts does have is a mid-range and baseline jump shot with nice enough form, and the ability to finish above the rim with ease, be it through transition, dump-offs or the offensive glass. Roberts avoids contract and drops many a pass (it would perhaps help if he didn't slap the ball so hard), lacks much jump shot range and a handle, and rarely gets to the line, yet he is not an offensive nothing - he will take open looks, be a target over the top, and can explode through tiny seams. He also looks to have fairly decent touch around the rim. Just as on defense, Roberts is unreliable, but he is useful.
Roberts played only 139 minutes in his first two years, and despite clear improvements in his two upperclassman campaigns, he still did not play all that much. As a 7 footer, he started all of 5 games in 4 years in the Big South conference, a conference in which next to no one matched up with him athletically. He was, and still is, a big project. But he made some headway, and he has some stuff that can't be taught. His Steven Hunter-esque frame and game would make for one hell of a sophomore right now. As it is, although behind the curve, Roberts still has potential.