Delvon Roe just might be college basketball's toughest and injury prone player. Consider the following: after Roe's high school career ended with a microfracture procedure on his right knee, he hyper-extended his left knee and tore his right meniscus during the 2009-2010 season. Roe, however, withheld his injury from Michigan State's coaching staff and played the remainder of the season in intense pain through Michigan State's Final Four run. Unfortunately, though certainly not undeservedly, when Delvon Roe plays, his injuries are the subject of conversation rather than abilities.
From a physical standpoint, Roe looks the part of an NBA combo-forward at 6'8 with a strong frame and long arms. While he likely has to continue to fill out his frame if he wishes to play in the NBA post, he overpowers players at the collegiate level with his strength. Though injuries have obscured his athleticism thus far in his collegiate career, Roe still has good quickness for the post, which coupled with his relentlessly aggressive style of play, allows him to scrappily contribute despite his lack of explosiveness at this point. If he can improve upon the flashes of athleticism and fluidity that he displayed at times last year, however, then Roe is a completely different prospect.
Unfortunately, outside of Roe's athletic potential and solid size, he does not bring much to the table offensively, though his injuries likely are responsible for last season's drop in production. Though he arrived at Michigan State billed as a combo-forward, he does not show much of a face-up game. When Roe receives the ball, he rarely will go into triple threat position or drive to the basket. Rather, he pauses and looks lost, oftentimes passing the ball out to the perimeter if he cannot back his man down.
His jump shot is also raw, showing little improvement from his freshman season. He has a slow and deliberate shooting motion with inconsistent mechanics. He has improved considerably, however, as a free throw shooter, where he now makes 66.1% of his 5.7 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted versus the 45.5% he shot as a freshman. Roe must become more comfortable facing the basket and on the perimeter if he wants to achieve his potential and emerge as a legitimate prospect for the next level.
Roe's back to the basket game is not perfect, either, though he has improved somewhat since his freshmen season. Despite his injuries, he is still stronger, quicker, and more agile than many Big 10 big men, which allows him to get to the basket as often as his improved, but still not great, footwork allows. His touch around the basket is only slightly above average, as well, though he is considerably better when he is not rushed, as evidenced by the reliable left hook that he made at a nice rate last season.
Where Roe truly stands out as a prospect, however, is with his energy. He is a very smart player with excellent intangibles, willing to move without the ball, set good screens, talk to his teammates, and make the extra pass. Similarly, few collegiate players know their limitations and play within their abilities, both in terms of skill and athleticism, as well as Roe. He also does a good job on the glass, especially on offense, where he uses his size and agility to rebound the ball in the paint and score off of put-backs.
Defensively, Roe is a mixed bag, once again showing excellent intangibles and fundamentals, but limited by his lack of ideal lateral quickness. He works very hard guarding his man in the post and, at the collegiate level, is able to overcome his lack of elite size and bulk by sheer effort. Also and as mentioned in past articles, Roe has excellent timing and a solid basketball IQ, which combined with his length, allows him to gather blocks and steals despite his athletic deficiencies. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to project him as a competent perimeter defender at the next level.
Going into his junior year at Michigan State Roe is the consummate collegiate role player, displaying the basketball IQ, discipline, toughness, and versatility that is coveted by NBA scouts. He could emerge as a completely different and more intriguing NBA prospect down the road, however if he regains the athleticism that made him a high school star. Early reports from East Lansing indicate that Roe is healthy and ready to produce on both ends of the floor for Michigan State next season. Expectations should be tempered, however, as Roe's troubled injury history has often impeded the tremendous potential and promise that he showed as one of the most valued high school recruits in the country.