AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Longhorns basketball signee Kerwin Roach scored 13 points and controlled the game from the point guard position as his Galena Park North Shore Mustangs easily dispatched of the Anderson Trojans, 72-49, in the Anderson Classic at Anderson High School on Thursday evening.
Athletically overmatched and disrupted early by the full-court North Shore defense, Anderson needed about six minutes of game time to score from the field, by which point the game was already out of reach.
So the Mustangs were able to coast for the next three quarters.
Roach was sharp early, hitting his first three shots. On one of his first touches, he drove left from the left wing, stopped, pivoted and knocked down a 12-foot jump shot. When left at the top of the key several minutes later, he knocked down a second before hitting a pull-up three pointer off the bounce that led to another heat check attempt on his next opportunity that missed.
Throughout the first half, Roach was impressive on the ball, consistently making the right decision and feeding his teammates when they were open. He also got to the free-throw line to go 3 of 4 from the charity stripe, adding an impressive rebound in traffic.
In the second half, however, Roach noticeably cooled down as Anderson put the team's best player and best perimeter defender on the Texas signee. More able to match Roach's quickness off the bounce, the Trojan defender was able to force some more contested jump shots, ultimately holding him scoreless from the field in the second half.
There were still some successful forays to the rim, though, resulting in four more three-throw attempts in the second half, of which he hit three.
Roach was by far the best athlete on the court and his elite first-step quickness and leaping ability were every bit as impressive in person as on film. And his leaping ability is a major asset in traffic on the defensive boards and, in other situations, allows him to finish plays with resounding dunks.
Attacking the basket, it's going to be difficult even for college defenders to stay in front of him and he can get to the basket off one bounce, which isn't always the case for guards.
In warm ups, his jump shot was remarkably consistent, as he was his free-throw stroke. He hit 75 percent from the line and based on his stroke, that looks like a solid guess about his overall efficiency there. The jump shot translated to the game early and when he was hot at the start, it jump shot was wet.
As the primary ball handler, he has plenty of experience shooting off the dribble and his three pointer in the first half was a big-time move. The expectation was for Roach to be more of a combo guard, but he showed the ability to run the point and involve his teammates when necessary, including a sweet drop-off bounce pass on a drive that led to an easy layup.
He was good enough defensively to give up only one contested basket on a dribble-drive and most of the Anderson players didn't look to attack him by trying to shoot over him or take him off the bounce.
Listed at 160 pounds, Roach is skinny, but not quite as skinny as he looks in some of his pictures -- he's definitely spent some time in the weight room. However, as he looks to add mass his frame may be something of a limiting factor, as his shoulders and joints are quite thin.
For basketball players, strength isn't always a big issue for guards, but it clearly impacts the North Shore star in his ability to finish around the rim, as he wasn't able to power through contact to convert any baskets
As the point guard and primary ball-handler for North Shore, Roach doesn't get many opportunities to play off the ball. It impacts his shooting percentage because he doesn't get catch-and-shoot opportunities, with all of his jump shots attempted off the dribble on Thursday night.
Once Anderson's best player started defending him in the second half, it had an impact on Roach's shot, with several of them left short.
Small sample size caveats apply, but Roach will likely go through some growing pains in college as he learns to create separation for his jumper against college defenders.
Since he doesn't appear to be getting much experience playing a more true shooting guard position for North Shore, it may also take him some time to learn how to cut hard and come off screens when he arrives in Austin.
Defensively, Roach has all the tools with his overall athleticism and strong lateral quickness. However, he needs to work on more consistently getting low into his stance and not gambling for so many steals. There were at least three instances where Roach took himself out of plays attempting to play passing lanes and missing.
On the boards, he was mostly able to box out when he was around the rim, but missed two that led to baskets and didn't consistently attempt to put a body on shooters on the perimeter after shots.
This is holding Roach to an extremely high standard as the senior leader of his team, but it was a little bit disappointing to see some of his interactions with coaches and teammates. With his teammates, he was visibly frustrated several times and it wasn't pat-you-on-the-back encouragement. And in the second half, he was taken out of the game and was animatedly making his case to an assistant coach who was discussing Roach's defensive assignments in the full-court press.
None of that is meant to suggest that Roach has a bad attitude or is a bad teammate, but Texas head coach Rick Barnes and his assistants likely won't appreciate their player talking back to them.
Barnes also won't put up with plays in the first half like Roach turning the ball over in the lane and then not hustling back on defense. The motor for Roach doesn't appear to be a problem, but he's going to have to learn what it means to play hard every play.
The competition level against Anderson was not exactly high and Roach will have to add strength and learn how to consistently play with the high motor that Barnes demands. Without seeing a lot of high school basketball in person, the guess here is that that's the case for virtually every player who has ever signed with Texas.
There's a lot to like with Roach from the standpoints of his athleticism, unselfishness, and the upside of a shooting stroke that will benefit from playing off the ball and getting more open looks.
He's less ready to play than fellow 2015 signee Eric Davis and may not get a lot of playing time as a freshman as he works to learn the college game and puts in the needed time in the weight room, though his playing time may depend in part on whether or not point guard Isaiah Taylor leaves in for the NBA and the continued possibility of shooting guard Damarcus Croaker transferring.
Once Roach does develop, his upside as a defender isn't far off from Demarcus Holland and his slashing ability will serve him well as his jumpshot becomes more consistent, with upside in that department as well.