Former Miami (OH) point guard Quinten Rollins finished his collegiate career on the football field, as he transitioned to the Redhawk football program and became a starting cornerback during the 2014 season.
Rollins became the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in his one and only season of college football and was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 62nd overall pick during the 2nd round during the 2015 NFL Draft on Friday night.
After his basketball career was over, the 6-foot-0 Rollins still had a desire to compete and someone suggested he try out for the Miami football team, since he still had a year of eligibility remaining. Rollins used a NCAA rule that allows players who have exhausted four years of eligibility in one sport to get a waiver to play an extra season in another.
On the hardwood, Rollins averaged 6.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game during his final season but made a huge impact for the Redhawk football program.
Playing football, Rollins registered 72 tackles, eight for loss, and also had seven interceptions and a touchdown.
Former Miami (OH) point guard now a hot name in the 2015 NFL Draft
During a four-year basketball career at Miami (OH), point guard Quinten Rollins made an impact on both ends of the floor for the RedHawks. The 6-foot guard finished fourth in program history in career assists and was also second in career steals.
But after his basketball career was over, Rollins still had a desire to compete and someone suggested he tryout for the Miami football team, since he still had a year of eligibility remaining. So Rollins used a NCAA rule that allows players who have exhausted four years of eligibility in one sport to get a waiver to play an extra season in another.
In a story from Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Rollins received a phone call from Miami football coach Chuck Martin inviting him to practice with the team last spring after basketball ended. After winning MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in his one and only season of college football in 2014, it appears that Rollins found the sport he was meant to play.
At cornerback this season Rollins registered 72 tackles, eight for loss, and also had seven interceptions and a touchdown.
College basketball and football fans will probably remember former Duke point guard Greg Paulus playing quarterback at Syracuse. Former Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd also exercised this same rule and played on Oregon’s Rose Bowl-winning team at wide receiver this season after four years on the basketball team.
Rollins is a point guard who transitioned to football like Paulus and Loyd, but unlike those two, he’s firmly on the NFL radar and considered a fast-rising pro prospect. Rollins is a hot name in the 2015 NFL Draft, with some scouts even saying that he could go in the first round after some flashes of strong play at this week’s Senior Bowl.
It’s a meteoric rise for a hooper turned college football player who only played one season in college after playing some football in high school. We’ve seen college basketball players like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham transition from hoops to the NFL before, so Rollins taking this path wouldn’t be entirely unique.
It’ll be interesting to see how Rollins continues to perform in workouts and at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month. It would be yet another story of a basketball player finding success on the gridiron and it’s a trend that will likely continue.
The MAC has become known for parity the last few years, but last season saw the emergence of the league’s West Division after many years of dormant activity.
Before last season’s MAC conference tournament title game between Toledo and Western Michigan, the West hadn’t had a team in the league championship game since 2006 as the East Division and teams like Akron and Ohio usually dominated the league’s NCAA Tournament bid.
That changed dramatically in 2013-14 as Toledo won a school-record 27 games but ultimately fell short of making the tournament by falling to Western Michigan.
The Rockets will be favored to make the Big Dance this season, however, as they return four starters, including two of the league’s top-1o scorers in senior point guard Julius Brown and fellow senior Justin Drummond. If Toledo can improve its shaky defense and get more stops on the defensive end, they could be one of the most dangerous mid-major programs in the country this season because they can really put up points in a hurry.
Western Michigan will still have plenty of gas in the tank after only losing All-MAC center Shayne Whittington from a NCAA Tournament team. Senior guard David Brown was granted a sixth year of eligibility and is the league’s returning leading scorer and he’s joined by senior point guard Austin Richie, junior power forward Connar Tava and sophomore forward Tucker Haymond.
Representing the East Division will be Akron, who has reached 20 wins a remarkable nine consecutive years under head coach Keith Dambrot. If league history is any indication, the Zips might be the favorite to make the NCAA Tournament by virtue of always making it during odd-numbered years. Akron reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2013, with breaks one-year in between just like this season. Past history aside, Akron returns all-league forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell, who is one of the most productive players in the league and the team will have plenty of talent to compete in 2014-15.
With new head coach Saul Phillips at the helm, Ohio should be competitive this season as well. Senior forward Maurice Ndour is a force on the interior and the senior backcourt of Stevie Taylor and Javarez Willis should be steady for the Bobcats.
From there, the MAC is filled with question marks.
Bowling Green has a new head coach in former Wichita State assistant Chris Jans and he inherits a roster filled with experienced players. All-MAC selection Richaun Holmes returns at forward and senior guards Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke can both score as well while junior forward Spencer Parker also averaged double-figures last season.
One of the surprise teams this season in the MAC could be Northern Illinois, as the Huskies improved by 10 wins last season and return plenty of talent. Head coach Mark Montgomery returns plenty of players with starting experience, including senior center Jordan Threloff, forwards Darrell Bowie and Travon Baker and guard Aaric Armstead, but he also gains Kansas State transfer Michael Orris at point guard, Purdue transfer Anthony Johnson at shooting guard and sophomore guard Dontel Highsmith returns from a ACL injury that robbed him of a promising start last season.
Kent State returns its top three scorers in guards Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson and Devareaux Manley, but the Golden Flashes were inconsistent last season and relied too much on perimeter jumpers. Buffalo begins life after MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea and must replace his stellar production in the front court this season. Eastern Michigan also returns its top three scorers from a 22-win season, but they’ll have to make it over the hump of beating the top teams in the league.
PRESEASON MAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Julius Brown, Toledo
The senior point guard known as “Juice” returns to a 27-win team after averaging 14.9 points and a MAC-leading 6 assists per game last season. The 5-foot-10 Brown is the engine that makes the Rockets’ potent offense run and his scoring average increased to 16.2 points per game during MAC play last season.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MAC TEAM:
David Brown, Western Michigan – The 6-foot-4 senior was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a career filled with medical issues and the Broncos will be pleased because he’s the MAC’s returning leading scorer at 19.1 points per game.
Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green – One of the MAC’s best athletes, the 6-foot-8 Holmes averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a junior while also leading the conference in blocks.
Demetrius Treadwell, Akron – The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward is coming off of a first-team All-MAC appearance after averaging 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year.
Maurice Ndour, Ohio – The 6-foot-9 senior with a 7-foot-5 wingspan put that to good use last season, averaging 13.8 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, good for top-10 in all three categories in the conference.
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The July live evaluation period came to a close on Sunday as college coaches from across America finally got the chance to return home after 15 days on the road evaluating over the last three weeks.
But for Miami (OH) assistant coach Trey Meyer, evaluating at the Nike Peach Jam during the second week of the July period meant a return home to a lifetime full of basketball memories.
A native of North Augusta, South Carolina — where the Peach Jam is played — Meyer has a unique bond with one of summer basketball’s most famous tournaments. The 28-year old Meyer has worked, played or coached in some form at the Peach Jam since he can remember.
“I don’t remember the exact year I started working it, I just remember growing up and it was something I did every year,” Meyer said to NBCSports.com.
He fondly remembers watching a high school version of Dirk Nowitzki play with an international team at Peach Jam in its early years before Meyer finally had the chance to play in the event himself with the South Carolina Ravens.
Meyer once buried four three-pointers in one game at Peach Jam as a player and later returned to coach a 16U team comprised of local North Augusta players, winning a game against national competition. The North Augusta native’s long-standing relationship with the Peach Jam has made him an unofficial historian for the event.
“It’s come a long ways, I can still remember the first year they had it when they had it over at Augusta State University. It just seems like each year it just gets bigger and better,” Meyer said of the Peach Jam. “I’ve been a ball boy, scorekeeper, player, AAU coach and now I’m blessed enough to be a college coach and it has a huge impact on this community. It’s just a tremendous tournament.”
Meyer’s father, Rick, is the Director of the Riverview Park and Activities Center, where the Peach Jam is played, and the week of the event becomes a family reunion of sorts for the Meyer family.
Trey’s two younger sisters worked this year’s Peach Jam as scorekeepers, their mother usually sells t-shirts and the family’s grandparents also usually attend the Peach Jam to watch some of the best high school basketball players in the country.
The Meyer family isn’t unique with their local bond to the event. Many local fans and high school basketball players come out and pack the stands for each game and give the tournament a unique feel among grassroots events.
“It just gives North Augusta something special. Augusta has The Masters — and not that the Peach Jam is at that level — but it’s an event that people look forward to once a year,” Meyer said. “You get the best upcoming college players in the country, the best college coaches, and all of the people living in the area, they get to see their favorite coaches. It’s their own unique event. And obviously, it has a tremendous economic impact on the town because the population probably doubles when this event is going on.”
College coaches and media members that are veterans of the Peach Jam know to book hotel rooms as far as six-to-eight months in advance to make sure they don’t end up in undesirable accommodations. Restaurants and bars around town are also usually filled with coaches and fans throughout the week. But Meyer has a leg up on the out-of-towners as he still opts to stay in his childhood home with his family during the Peach Jam.
“I stay in the house I grew up in. It’s awesome,” Meyer said with a smile. “My Mom has actually formed my old bedroom into memorabilia of me and my sisters; things she’s collected over the years. So I actually sleep in one of my sister’s rooms. But home is home. I can sleep on the floor and it’s still home. They always say, ‘You can get a hotel if you want,’ and there’s no way I would do that.”
Being the local guy, Meyer also has plenty of colleagues asking for recommendations on local places to go. Meyer plays a willing host and can offer insights on a number of different places in the Augusta and North Augusta areas.
“Most people in the basketball world, if they ask me where I’m from, I’ll say, ‘North Augusta,’ and I don’t know that it really clicks, so I’ll say, ‘Where the Peach Jam is,’ and they instantly recognize it and love the place and the tournament,” Meyer said.
“I get hit up for all different things. Where to stay, where to eat, where to go at night. It’s cool, it gives me my own unique perspective for everyone else.”
The Peach Jam itself has grown quite a bit over the years. As the finals for Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, the final four and championship game of the event is now nationally televised and many casual college basketball fans that don’t follow recruiting can at least recognize the significance of the tournament every July.
From a small-town tournament covered by local publications to the current iteration that commands writers and TV personalities from across the country, Meyer still believes the Peach Jam is the best event of the summer.
“I think it’s the best of the summer. I’ve always thought that, ever since growing up,” Meyer said. “Going back to when I’ve coached and traveled to different tournaments, I think it’s the best one of the summer. I may be biased, but the food, the hospitality, the way people treat you and the way the community comes out and supports it, it’s just a special tournament.”
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
In recent years the East Division has dominated things in the MAC, with Western Michigan being the last West Division team to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament back in 2004. With the key departures at both Akron and Ohio, is this the season that the West narrows the gap? One program that will factor into the equation is Toledo, which returns four starters from a team that earned a share of the West Division crown last season.
Head coach Tod Kowalczyk has a squad capable of winning the MAC, with Rian Pearson (17.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Julius Brown (13.1, 6.0 apg) leading the way. Add in Loyola (MD) transfer Justin Drummond and the Rockets have a trio capable of competing with anyone in the MAC.
As for their most likely challenger, Western Michigan has to replace Nate Hutcheson and Darius Paul but the Broncos welcome back a pair of fifth-year seniors in center Shayne Whittington and guard David Brown. And Eastern Michigan returns four of its five starters from last season, including Glenn Bryant, and Duquesne transfer Mike Talley should be an impact player on the perimeter.
But even with the West showing signs of improvement the East’s run of success can’t be ignored. Defending champion Akron lost center Zeke Marshall but head coach Keith Dambrot welcomes back two quality forwards in Nick Harney and Demetrius Treadwell. The Zips have some questions to answer, most notably at point guard, but they once again have the pieces needed to reach the NCAA tournament. Ohio also lost multiple key contributors, most notably point guard D.J. Cooper, but the Bobcats will be a factor provided their young front court rises to the challenge.
And then there’s Buffalo, which has a new head coach in Bobby Hurley but also has the league’s best player in senior forward Javon McCrea. McCrea averaged 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game last season, and with three other starters returning the Bulls should be a contender. Kent State shouldn’t be overlooked either, with point guard Kris Brewer and forward Darren Goodson expected to lead the way.
PRESEASON MAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: F Javon McCrea (Buffalo)
McCrea (18.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg) isn’t just one of the most talented forwards at the mid-major level, he’s one of the most talented forwards in all of college basketball.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
F Demetrius Treadwell (Akron): Treadwell is the guy that the Zips will lean heavily on with Zeke Marshall and Alex Abreu gone.
G Rian Pearson (Toledo): McCrea’s the clear favorite to win POY, with Pearson being the MAC’s second-best player.
G Julius Brown (Toledo): With D.J. Cooper gone Brown may be the MAC’s best point guard.
C Shayne Whittington (Western Michigan): Whittington made a major jump production-wise last season, earning second team All-MAC honors.