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Roberson hoping SMC is next step in basketball career

Posted: June 11, 2018 3:05 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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LUGOFF-ELGIN’S KEVON ROBERSON signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and basketball-playing pursuits at Spartanburg Methodist College while flanked by his mother, Lakeshia Roberson, and his brother, Dominique Roberson. Standing, from left, are assistant basketball coaches Shawn Merriweather and Vernon Tucker, head basketball coach Garrett Knight, assistant basketball coach Shane Duncan, Assistant Athletic Director Dr. Mike Armstrong and Principal Worth Thomasson.

It had been 13 years since a Lugoff-Elgin boys’ basketball player signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his career in college.

With a few quick strokes of the pen, Kevon Roberson put an end to that frustrating run.

Roberson, a 6-foot-1, 173-pound point guard, became the first Demon since Delroy Moore in 2005 to affix his signature to a grant-in-aid when he signed with Spartanburg Methodist College in a ceremony held inside the L-E Wellness Center.

The occasion was not lost on L-E head basketball coach Garrett Knight, who is entering his sixth season at the Demons’ helm. Instead of dwelling on the past, however, Knight looked ahead and hoped Roberson’s signing would start a new trend for his program.

“Kevon came to us the summer before his ninth grade year and has been with us ever since,” Knight said. “He’s a great kid. He’s quiet but, he’s such a hard worker. This is a great day for him. We’re looking forward to him going to SMC and doing big things for two years and then, hopefully, going on to somewhere much bigger after that.”

A four-year starter at L-E, Roberson finished his high school career with 973 points. This past season, he helped lead the Demons into the 4A state playoffs for the first time while leading the team in both scoring (16 points per game) and with 5.1 assists per outing.

Roberson hopes his two years in Nori Johnson’s program will lead to his signing with a four-year program when his career as a Pioneer is finished. The combination of Johnson, a former player at the College of Charleston under Bobby Cremins, and trying to get himself prepared to scale the next step on the collegiate ladder played a major role in the former L-E standout’s final decision on a college.

“I felt it was a better fit for me out of all the schools to help me get my grades right and then, to transfer to a bigger school,” Roberson said. “I like how (Johnson) coaches. I think it will be a good fit with him. He seems like he cares about his players and wants to help get them to a better place.”

Knight received his first glimpse of Roberson when he came to open gyms in the summer before his freshman year at L-E. Knight said he knew he was getting something special from the get-go.

“I knew Kevon could dribble. That was the first thing I noticed about him,” Knight said of his first impression of Roberson. “We were doing ball-handling drills and he was lights-out plus, he was dribbling left-handed. I knew then he was going to be special.”

Being a southpaw shooter, Roberson gave defenders --- who were used to guarding right-handed shooters --- fits. Possessing a good handle and having good jumping ability, the next step for Roberson was to continue working on all facets of his game.

That process has continued as he still comes to the L-E gym and takes 400 to 500 shots per day on the shooting machine. 

“My game has changed a lot from when I was a freshman to my senior year,” Roberson said. “My shot got better, I got stronger in the weight room and my ball-handling got better.”

As Roberson matured mentally and physically, not only did his body change but, so too did his game. The freshman point guard who used to stay outside the 3-point arc developed confidence to drive to the basket as his entire game changed.

“I would say his ability to drive to the basket,” Knight said of the biggest transformation he saw in Roberson throughout his L-E career. “He had always been a slasher and he always enjoyed getting to the rim. He worked hard on his 3-point shooting this year and it got a lot better but, he was always good at attacking.”

Roberson said he was told by Johnson that he will stay at the point at SMC. The newest Pioneer said he relishes the chance to remain in his natural position. “I just like handling the ball and for my teammates to get open; that’s all I’ve been playing all my life,” he said with a smile.

One of the biggest changes which Roberson is preparing himself for at the college level is going up against bigger, quicker and better players than the ones he saw in high school. He also said the physicality of the game will change from here on out and that is something else for which he needs to prepare.

“It’s going to be a lot of running and a lot of hard work. It’s going to be more competitive and playing against bigger and better players,” he said. “It’s going to be way more physical in college. Everyone is bigger than you.”

Knight said he fully anticipates Kevon Roberson being able to handle what awaits him at SMC. And, the Demon boss said, he expects his former standout to thrive in the college game.

“Coach Johnson said he is looking for Kevon to come in and instantly start helping his team next year,” Knight said.  “One of the first things coach Johnson told me was that they were a family school. They like to take kids in and treat them like family. 

“Their job (at SMC) is to get their players somewhere after two years. I really thought it was the kind of school that would help Kevon focus on his grades and help with basketball for two years and, hopefully get a Division 1 or, at least, a Division 2 offer, after that.”

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