At the start of the day Friday, the SDSU men’s basketball team’s projected starting five looked something like this:
G: Devin Watson
G: Trey Kell
F: Max Hoetzel
F: Malik Pope
F: Jeremy Hemsley in a trenchcoat, standing on Jordan Schakel’s shoulders
As such, the questions swirling around the 2017-18 season included such doozies as:
- Can Jalen McDaniels gain 55 pounds in a summer?
- Can Nolan Narain get bitten by a radioactive spider?
- Is it bad that this team has no established big men?
- No, really. Is that bad?
At the end of the day Friday, things seem … a little less dire. You have Kameron Rooks to thank for that.
Seriously, please go thank Kameron Rooks for that*.
While certainly a relief, this is not a surprise. Rooks was linked to the Aztecs as soon as he decided to bail from Berkeley after the departure of coach Cuonzo Martin. The 7-foot-1 graduate transfer from Cal announced his intentions right after the Aztecs missed out on transfer big man Ahmed Hamdy. Rooks hails from San Marcos, so it was easy to connect the dots.
He’s also J.J. O’Brien’s cousin, which raises the possibility that Steve Fisher will gaze down approvingly from the stands as Rooks does the gritty little things — things that don’t show up in the box score, but help the team win nonetheless. Perhaps that is a genetic trait, who knows.
Rooks averaged 17 minutes a game each of the last two seasons. Last year he averaged roughly 5 points, 4 boards and a block per game, so don’t expect vintage Dwight Howard or anything. But as a little muscle to do the dirty work and free up Pope and Yung Hoetz and McDaniels to be themselves? And tournament-tested muscle, at that?
Yeah, he’ll do.
There are a lot of questions Rooks’ arrival raises, as well. Does Hemsley fall out of the starting lineup? How many minutes per game can we really get out of Rooks? Is Narain capable to slot in as a backup, or is the second line going to be really small?
But those questions can wait until fall. The doozy questions and existential panic have been assuaged.
Welcome, Kameron. We have a trenchcoat in your size if you need it.
*In the least creepy fanboy way possible, please.