The underlying story behind what makes Shawn Roundtree Jr. who he is

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree waits to inbound the ball on March 2 in McGuirk Arena,

It was a Wednesday morning on April 3, exactly two weeks removed from Central Michigan's final game of the season.

McGuirk Arena was dark and empty. The only light that shed through came from the opening where the crowd is let in by the student section seats. Everything was quiet, like you’d expect when the basketball season has ended.

However, journeying further into the tunnels beneath the upper level of arena, you could hear music echoing the halls leading to the Parfitt practice gym.

As you followed the heavy bass and beats, the squeaking of sneakers on the floor could be heard. Peering through the doors, there was one player on the floor with a trainer. 

It was Shawn Roundtree Jr.

He pounded two basketballs on the floor, trying to keep an even dribble without losing the ball. His trainer, Bobby Naubert, had padded mitts on to push on his arms as he tried to balance the balls. 

Roundtree did the drill three times and never lost control. At the end, he walked around with a scowl on his face shouting, “Yeah man!” The Edwardsville, Illinois native was as motivated as ever, even though it wasn’t a scheduled practice. 

Those are no more for Roundtree at the college level. In May, the former transfer guard will earn his degree in entrepreneurship with a minor in marketing. What’s next for him, he doesn’t really know. Roundtree wants to leave it to God and help him figure it out. 

But to understand who Shawn Roundtree Jr. really is, you have to understand what he stands for — his beliefs, hard work and being the best person he can be. 

“I’ve never been comfortable being complacent,” Roundtree said. “I love basketball, it’s why I’m in the gym right now. It’s what I know.”

But on the other end, long before college basketball started to become a reality, is a Shawn Roundtree many people don't know.

The entertainer.

Growing up, Roundtree loved theater and musicals. He was apart of them all the way through middle school. He has obtained skills to talk in front of people that are noticeably strong. "Roundtree’s Roundtable" was a show he did weekly for CMU Athletics that brought in a different teammate that he would interview. He always tried to make them unique.

While basketball had to become his main focus in high school and college, he has recently thought about the side of himself that he had to leave behind years ago — his ability for acting and singing.

“I was that kid at the family reunions always being told to sing or perform something,” Roundtree said with a smile. “Over the last two years, getting back into entertainment has really been resonating with me. It’s a really big goal of mine. 

“Basketball and acting, everything is a performance. You have to practice and rehearse things for both so you’re ready when the lights are on.”

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree Jr. and junior guard Dallas Morgan celebrate after a score on March 15 in Quicken Loans Arena.

Even though pushing entertainment to the side had to happen for his basketball career to sprout, music has always stayed strong in his life. The musical artists he plays weekly mean everything to Roundtree.

As he trained, he had a playlist of Nipsey Hussle blaring over the speakers to keep himself motivated. Hussle was recently shot and killed in Los Angeles. The lyrics to his music mean everything to Roundtree.

“I credit a lot of what I’ve been able to accomplish to a guy like Nipsey Hussle because his words have meaning and principles to keep you going,” Roundtree said. “Just like he said, ‘the marathon continues,’ that’s what I’m focusing on right now. 

“I’m just trying to stay ready.”

As he departs from Mount Pleasant shortly after graduation, Roundtree wants people to know who he really is. Someone who doesn’t quit and wants to keep working because it’s all he’s ever known.

He will never forget the times like the morning of April 3 in the Parfitt practice gym. He has the court to himself, conditioning for the game he loves. Roundtree made Central Michigan his home. It was a place where he scored 1,095 points in just two seasons after transferring from the JUCO level. He left a mark on the program.

But in the future, it could be his past of acting that gets reopened. At the end of the day, he just wants you to know who he really is.

“Yeah I can play basketball, I’m pretty decent at it, but the main thing I want people to know about me is my character,” Roundtree said. “I want them to see how good of a person I can be at times.

“Central Michigan gave me the chance to develop into a great young man I would say. I got to reach a potential in basketball that I didn’t even know was possible at one time. The community of Central Michigan as a whole has been great to me.”

When the interview ended, Roundtree didn’t leave the gym. He got down on his back with a foam roller to end the work out like so many times before. Everything was normal, this is who Roundtree has become — someone who finishes the job and works until the end.

As far as the near future is concerned, no matter what profession, he doesn’t see any change.