By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
STANWOOD — Skout Roberson spent his junior season as a productive role player on a Stanwood boys basketball team that placed sixth in the Class 3A state tournament.
Six seniors from that team graduated, including Josh Thayer and Drew Stang — both members of The Herald’s All-Area first-team. With so many players moving on, Roberson, a senior-to-be, finds himself the Spartans’ go-to- player-in-training for the 2014-15 season.
“Skout is going to help mold what this team’s identity is,” Stanwood head coach Zach Ward said. “Last year was last year, and while there are things you can carry over and there are things you can learn and apply, it’s a totally different group. You have to get out from that shadow and you have to be your own person and your own team.”
The best time to start that process is when teams come together for the first time — the summer. The Spartans have competed in four tournaments, winning one and losing just three games total. They currently are in California for the San Diego State University Team Camp, the final step in this summer’s growth process.
In the past, Roberson was someone the older players took under their wings. With more than half Stanwood’s roster for the upcoming season being sophomores, it’s Roberson’s turn to play that role.
“He might not realize it, but (the other players) really watch how he acts and what he does, so I expect him to be just an incredible role model — and I think he will be,” Ward said.
The Spartans attend a team camp annually and for the past several seasons it has been somewhere in Southern California. This week’s trip to SDSU provides the younger players a chance to bond with Roberson’s and the team’s two other seniors.
“(Team camp has) always brought the players closer together as a family,” Roberson said. “This year we’re hoping to get the sophomores closer to us older kids. This week is the week that we all come closer as a family.”
Just as important as Roberson’s off-floor growth will be what he can do on the floor. Ward said Roberson will be the team’s main post player next season. Much of the team’s offense will run through him.
Quite the change from a year ago.
“I don’t think we drew up one play for him last year,” Ward said. “I don’t remember saying, ‘We’re going to go to Skout here,’ but he works his tail off. I think his strength is how he runs the floor. He has really good hands and really good feet. He’s not going to jump out of the gym, but he’s smart, he scores efficiently and he doesn’t foul out.”
Even without plays designed for him, Roberson averaged just under 10 points per game. In the Spartans’ regional victory over Foss that earned them a trip to the Tacoma Dome, Roberson scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
And if this summer is any indication, he’s only getting better.
“I think he’s really increased his effectiveness,” Ward said. “We’re doing stuff now through him. A lot of our action is through him and he’s taken that on and he’s been really effective. He’s 6-4 or 6-5 and doesn’t jump great. There’s a place in my heart for guys like that. He’s taken (his new role) on and you haven’t noticed a change in his attitude or his style of play.”
Roberson, senior Karsten Chaplick and guard A.J. Martinka are the only returning players with significant varsity experience. Roberson and Chaplick will shoulder a bulk of the offensive load.
“I think those two will definitely dominate box scores,” Ward said. “They’re two guys that were a main part of that really good team last year, so they kind of get that part of it. Everybody else is still kind of learning what to do and what varsity basketball is all about.”
And if the game is on the line, there is little doubt Roberson is going to be involved.
“I definitely want the ball,” Roberson said. “I want to be able to take the last shot at the end of the game. They can count on me.”
“I would say there’s a good chance we’re going to him with the game on the line,” Ward added.
If there’s one thing Roberson can take away from the success of last year’s team, it’s the experience of competing against the state’s best in the Tacoma Dome.
“It was awesome,” Roberson said. “I don’t know how to describe it. It was like the best feeling. After we won regionals and were going to state, that was the best feeling I’ve felt, to be a part of it.”
If the Spartans are going to return to Tacom next season, Roberson no doubt will be one of the big reasons.
“He’s locked in at a post spot for as many minutes as I can have him play,” Ward said. “In the summer we share minutes quite a bit, but in the season it’s going to be 32 minutes a night. That’s what I’m going to hope for every night without a doubt.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.