Guard Roundtree uses playmaking experience after multiple transfers
Shawn Roundtree says the competitiveness at Mineral Area College is just as difficult as the competition he faces with Central Michigan's basketball team in the Mid-American Conference.
Mineral Area College is located in Park Hills, Missouri. It's a small school, and a part of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“People have this perception that JUCO (junior college) ball isn’t very competitive or its a level down, but what they don’t know is it’s a straight grind,” Roundtree said. “A lot of people are isolated way far away from their families and most of these schools are in the middle of no where so you have nothing else to do but focus on basketball.
“It changes the way you look at the game, it puts you in a situation to do things you've never done before.”
Roundtree's transfer to CMU wasn’t his first collegiate transfer.
The six-foot, 185-pound guard played his first two seasons of collegiate basketball with another Division I program in Missouri State.
Roundtree played in 30 games in his freshman season. He made a couple of starts and was second on the team with 44 assists.
After only playing in three games as a sophomore, he missed a majority of the season due to an injury and began to think about other options.
That’s when playing “JUCO ball” at Mineral Area College became his next mission.
Roundtree described playing in the NJCAA like the Netflix series “Last Chance U,” which is about a football team that gives players a second chance at their playing careers after injuries or mistakes off the field.
“There are some guys who academically fell off but their talent is still there,” Roundtree said. “For me, it was very relatable because some players in the show came from a Division I school like me. You just have to learn how to work and that’s what college is all about.”
Roundtree wanted to made the most of his opportunity.
The guard helped the Cardinals to a No. 9 ranking in the NJCAA and a 28-3 record. He was named to the All-Missouri Community College Athletic Conference First Team. Roundtree averaged 10.9 points, 3.1 assists and two rebounds per game.
After the season was over, Roundtree got a phone call from CMU assistant coach Kyle Gerdeman, who coached at Mineral Area College earlier in his career.
CMU head coach Keno Davis told Roundtree some guard spots would be opening after the 2016-17 season, and CMU was interested.
“Our staff did a great job identifying players around the country that had the ability to lead a team and the intangibles to play strong out there,” Davis said. “We had the list narrowed down to about 12 players or so and we eventually decided that Shawn was the guy."
Roundtree is one of three Chippewas to average double figures in scoring with 13.6 points per game and leads the team with 60 assists. Although the numbers wont show it, he was skeptical before arriving on campus.
“This wasn't my first rodeo and you never really know how things will be with your teammates and coaches until you step on the floor and are here,” Roundtree said. “I think overall I made a great decision and I love all of my coaches and teammates.”
Roundtree said he felt an instant connection with senior guard Josh Kozinski because they both like to lead vocally.
“He has a great personality and is a team first kind of guy,” Kozinski said. “He’s done a great job adjusting to playing here and he’s won over a few guys thanks to his personality and working hard in the gym.”
Sophomore guard Matty Smith, who has backed up Roundtree at the point guard position, said the competition helps them both.
“The way he drives, scores and gets his teammates involved is something that we help each other with,” Smith said. “Whether that be working out and things like that get us together as a pair.”
CMU has started the Mid-American Conference season 1-2 with a loss to Kent State and Eastern Michigan. Roundtree is still learning how to play in the Mid-American Conference.
“Right now, it’s about getting adjusted to MAC play,” Roundtree said. “We have to get tough. I have to get tougher and better at leading. It is all about adjusting right now.”
Adjusting to different situations is something Roundtree is used to. Now, he is tasked with leading CMU in conference play.