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As the Sac-Joaquin Section’s most prolific scorer, Jordan Roberson has Cordova on fire   By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor   Growth is an...

As the Sac-Joaquin Section’s most prolific scorer, Jordan Roberson has Cordova on fire

  By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor

  Growth is an important part of high school athletics. No sport puts as high a value on growth — specifically physical growth — as basketball.

  Cordova senior guard Jordan Roberson has been a high-profile example of an athlete growing in a variety of ways during his four years on the Lancers’ varsity basketball roster. From the time he arrived as a 5-foot-11 sharp-shooting freshman to his senior season as a 6-foot-4 player attracting interest from multiple Division-I college programs, Roberson has been growing into the star he has worked to become.

  “I want to become the player that I know I can be,” Roberson said. “I just want to put in the work to get there and be a great scorer.”

  The devoted gym rat has developed from a slender freshman who cracked the starting lineup to score 10 points per game with a catch-and-shoot outside game, into the Sac-Joaquin Section’s leading scorer at 32 points per game as a senior. Roberson’s first growth spurt came between his freshman and sophomore years, and his frame and game have continued to grow each year since.

  “He has become a more complete basketball player and leader as he has developed,” Cordova head coach Fletcher Johnson said. “He is much more than just a shooter. He shares the ball and leads his teammates in practice and on the floor by showing them how to work hard and by being more vocal.”

  Roberson continues to work on his strength in order to absorb the physical contact he seeks near the basket and to prepare for the next level. For now, his improved game has helped Cordova to an 18-5 overall mark through January and a current spot at the top of the Sierra Valley Conference standings at 6-0.

  He is averaging 32 points per game and grabbing a career-best six rebounds per contest, up from 21 points and three boards from a year ago. Roberson is in the top 5 in the state in scoring, thanks in part to a season-high 44-point outburst in a key league road victory over Liberty Ranch-Galt.

  That game featured a shootout of sorts between Roberson and Hawks senior guard DeAndre Stallings, who averaged 23.4 points per game as a junior and is scoring at a clip of 26.4 points per game this season. Roberson and the Lancers jumped out to a 23-8 lead after one quarter, and held Stallings in check for much of the first half. Stallings heated up after the intermission when Cordova was forced to play a zone defense, yet Roberson got the better of the matchup, outscoring Stallings 44-37 as the Lancers won 97-82.

  More important than the individual duel was the road win over the team that is most likely to challenge Cordova in the Sierra Valley Conference. The emphasis on team wins over individual stats is just another indicator of Roberson’s growth.

  That growth extends beyond games to the classroom, weight room and practices. Roberson has embraced the importance of good grades and leadership to his high school team and recruiting resumé. He has raised his GPA to 3.2 overall with a solid 3.67 first semester GPA this year. And those smarts are carrying back over to the basketball court.

  “He is scoring in every way that you can,” Johnson said. “He sees the floor so well that he can find his shot, or draw defenders and get the ball to one of our other guys for easy baskets.”

  Cordova can score in more ways than just Roberson. Seniors JaQuan Lewis and Christian Munoz are averaging double digits scoring and contributing a combined 12.3 rebounds per game. Johnson knows Roberson can light up the scoreboard, but also enjoys the fact that the Lancers can do just fine if opponents decide to spend all of their time defending the section’s top scorer. “If you think we are just him, then you will end up getting caught by our other players scoring,” Johnson said. “If we ever have a game where all of our starters are clicking at the same time, then we could put up a crazy number.”

  With this season’s high-water mark at the 97 points the Lancers scored against Liberty Ranch, the idea of reaching triple digits is not a stretch. But Johnson says that Cordova’s defense is more important to the team’s goals of winning a second consecutive league title and advancing further in the section playoffs.

  “Everything falls into place when we play good defense,” Johnson said. “When we play with intensity on the defensive side of the ball, it opens up so much for us on offense.”

  Which brings it back to Roberson. Johnson credits his senior’s scoring improvement to defense and an expanded offensive repertoire. Roberson is averaging three steals per game, which often lead to easy lay-ups. But a more aggressive game on offense has been vital to Roberson’s jump in scoring.

  “He has figured out how to get to the basket where he can make easy baskets or draw fouls.” Johnson said. “His bread-and-butter has been hitting the outside shot, but his ability to get to the basket and get to the foul line has added 8-10 points per game for him.”

  His expanded game and increased scoring has attracted more interest from college recruiters, which includes Pac-12 programs. A Cal scout was in attendance at a recent road game against Rosemont in which Roberson had 31 points, six rebounds and five steals in a 75-34 league rout. He can expect to have more eyes on him as the stakes rise in March.

  “It started off slow, but it picked up after a couple of tournaments over the summer,” Roberson said of the recruiting process. “I have a couple of schools in mind where I would like to go, but I am going to wait until after the season to decide. I am waiting for the right time.”

  Among the schools Roberson is considering are Cal, Washington State and Utah State. But the senior is focused on the likes of Liberty Ranch and El Dorado in the SVC, and a Division II playoff field that could include Sacramento, Antelope and St. Mary’s-Stockton.

  Sacramento handed Cordova its worst loss of the year in an opening-round game at the Dragons’ St. HOPE Classic in December. But Roberson and his teammates look at their experience at the St. HOPE and other tournaments against top competition as the key to growing into a team capable of making noise in the postseason. “It was good preparation for some of our newer players who got to see action,” Roberson said. “That is what we will need in order to win in the playoffs. We understand what we have to do.”

  Getting it done in the playoffs would be the ultimate sign of growth for Roberson and an up-and-coming Cordova program.

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