The old adage goes back to the 19th century. Modified a bit to fit the circumstances of former St. John’s guard Quincy Roberts, it seems to hold true:
“Go south, young man.”
After two and a half years and forty-one total games in a St. John’s uniform, Roberts filed his papers in December of 2010 and decided to transfer, settling in Louisiana at Grambling State.
“I still don’t understand it, but everything is a process,” Roberts said of his split with St. John’s and decision to head to Grambling. “Me and Steve Lavin still have a good relationship, but [the coaching staff at Grambling] made me feel comfortable, and you have to be comfortable to play.”
Roberts’ story of why he chose St. John’s was not atypical.
As a standout at Harrisburg High (Pa.), Roberts originally committed to Miami (Fl.), but decommitted and chose St. John’s.
“I liked the location because it wasn’t too far from home,” says Roberts, who says former Red Storm forwards DJ Kennedy and Sean Evans also influenced his decision. “They made me feel comfortable there. Also, I knew about the St. John’s tradition, which I liked.”
Norm Roberts, now an assistant at Florida, was a good friend, says Quincy, but the departure of the former as head coach, following the 2009-2010 season, did not initially affect the future of the latter.
“Once [Roberts] got fired, I wanted to stay. I was just starting to become a part of [the program],” says the now-junior, who had a medical redshirt his sophomore season at St. John’s. “It wasn’t working out well on the court. I feel like they were making it hard on me. Playing-wise I felt like I should have been playing more. “
And that road has led Roberts Grambling State.
“Before I even decided what college [out of high school] I wanted to go to, I said I wanted to go to a black college,” says Roberts. “I enjoyed being around the [Historically Black Colleges and University] atmosphere. But, out of high school, I was recruited as a high-major.”
“I never took a visit. I just called the coach and he said, “Are you serious? You really want to come?” Roberts recounts of his conversation with Grambling head coach Bobby Washington. “Being in the Big East and coming down to the SWAC, he was glad to welcome me.”
Because of transfer rules, Roberts had to sit out the first semester of this season, watching his Tigers play seven of their first eight games on the road and falling to an 0-8 record.
But, in his first full game back, coming on the road at TCU on December 22nd, Roberts unleashed the potential he saw in himself at St. John’s, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a loss to the Horned Frogs.
His debut should bring some much-needed scoring to a team that is ranked 345th in the country in that department, putting up just 44 points per game.
For Roberts, this college path through Grambling State has the game set of goals as when it led through St. John’s: play professionally.
“I have a lot of peers that play professionally. It’s not really an exposure thing,” he says. “I have to show my talents, more than play in a big conference. Why don’t I go somewhere where I can show my talents?”
“Coming out of high school, when you’re one of the best, you don’t really have to work as hard, or you feel like you don’t have to. If you want to be a pro, you have to have a mindset,” he says, attributing the quote to former St. John’s assistant coach Fred Quartlebaum.
“I’ll always be a St. John’s fan. St. John’s will always be in my heart,” says Roberts. “I don’t look at any of this as negative. All of this is going to work out. My dream is to play professional basketball. I want to graduate and play professional basketball. Hopefully I’m in a spot here at Grambling where I can lead my team to a championship.”