Nationally, the first year of the NCAA’s regional basketball academies has widely been panned for a number of reasons.
For a player like Julian Roper, though, it proved to have significant benefit. After participating in the Illinois camp that ran July 22-28, the shooting guard from Orchard Lake (Michigan) St. Mary’s in the class of 2021 has landed four new scholarship offers.
Included in that mix: Ohio State, which offered him while on an unofficial visit earlier this week.
“It was crazy because I was on campus as well, so I got to actually get the offer face-to-face from coach (Chris) Holtmann and walk around the campus and see how new the campus is and everything,” Roper told The Dispatch. “It was just mind-blowing. It was very nice there.”
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The Buckeyes had been recruiting the 6-foot-3, 183-pound Roper prior to his appearance at the Illinois camp. According to Roper, they began to show interest in early July leading into his appearance at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.
After watching Roper there and following it up with his performance at the NCAA camp, Ohio State joined Illinois, Kent State and Akron in offering him a new scholarship.
“Oh yeah, it was crazy,” Roper said of life after the NCAA camp. “It was crazy hearing from different coaches every day. It was almost two weeks before it died down. It’s crazy to feel the love from all the schools and seeing that all my hard work’s been paying off. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of, just to have the opportunity to play at the next level. To see that starting to come true is a blessing and feels good.”
The NCAA camp experience was enjoyable, he said, albeit a little bit long.
“I didn’t really know anybody that was down there at first. I knew a couple of people like Wendell Green, one of my old teammates. I heard about the Jalen Bridges kid before but I hadn’t played with him so it was fun to play against him. Just to see other people from all around the Midwest with different names you’ve never heard of.”
Bridges, a 2020 recruit, recently included the Buckeyes among his top 10 schools.
While on his visit to Ohio State, Roper said he got to see the various parts of campus that he’d experience as a student-athlete. He’s being recruited by assistant coach Terry Johnson.
“He’s a pretty cool dude,” Roper said. “He’s very down to earth, very calm. I really like him. He’s very good at what he does. He’s good at building relationships. I really liked him.”
Ohio State was Roper’s first visit of the summer. Last year, he visited Iowa and Wisconsin and has also visited Purdue. All have offered him. Northwestern is currently his only other planned visit, and he will check out the Wildcats on August 13. The Hawkeyes and Badgers were the first two schools to offer Roper, he said.
Soon, the focus will turn completely to Roper’s junior season. He’s been working on his all-around game, his jump shot and his leadership abilities this summer, he said. He is listed as a three-star prospect, the No. 131 recruit in the nation, the No. 3 prospect from Michigan and the No. 30 shooting guard in the country according to 247Sports.com.
Roper’s versatility has helped endear himself to the Ohio State coaching staff.
“Coach (Holtmann) really loves how I can play multiple positions, the 1 and the 2, or the 3 if I need to,” he said. “That’s more opportunity in the game and he likes that about me and how I’m versatile on D and I can be a leader. That’s pretty much what he said when I talked to him.”
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