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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Rend Lake's Roland named NJCAA All-American, inks with Utah State
ALL-AMERICAN - Rend Lake College point guard and NJCAA DII Region 24 Player of the Year TeNale Roland has become only the fourth Warrior in history to be named All-American in men's basketball. Last week, Roland signed his national letter of intent to play next season at NCAA DI Utah State. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. (April 23, 2012) – Until this spring, Rend Lake College men’s basketball waited more than 15 years before getting its next All-American. But then again, the Warriors waited nearly 4.5 decades for TeNale Roland to come along and take them to the national tournament.
Roland, RLC’s freshman point guard from Louisville, has been named National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Second-Team All-American. Last week, he signed with NCAA DI Utah State University.
Roland, the NJCAA DII Region XXIV Player of the Year, is only the fourth Warrior cager to ever make an All-American team in 45 years of basketball at The Lake. Bryant Lowe was First-Team All-America in 1995-96, Antwan Stallworth made Third-Team in 1988-89, and Stacy Sturm was Honorable Mention in 1987-88.
“I was excited,” Roland said of learning he had been selected. “I’m thankful and blessed. All the hard work we did in the off-season – the coaching staff and the players – it paid off.”
“Being selected as a Second-Team All-American is a great honor for TeNale personally and for our basketball program,” said RLC Director of Athletics Tim Wills. “Only a select few individuals are chosen for this honor from across the United States, so having the title of All-American puts you in a very elite crowd. I think the fact that Rend Lake College has had only a handful of men’s basketball players receive this honor makes his selection that much more special. In addition to his accomplishments on the court, TeNale has been a true student-athlete here at RLC. He has also represented our entire college in a first-class manner and will be a great asset to the program at Utah State over the next several years.”
“It’s a blessing to be among those players,” Roland said. “It’s because of all the hard work we put in over the summer last year. Coach Tommy [Holder], coach [Ward] McDaniel and coach [Randy] House - they all helped me improve my game all year. We had humps we needed to get over and we did. It turned out to be a good year.”
The Warriors made it the national championship tournament for the first time in school history this past season. Roland led the charge, averaging 20.667 points per game for 620 total points in the regular season and Region XXIV tournament. He hit the biggest shot of his career so far on March 11 – a fade-away buzzer beater at the Region XXIV Championship that sent the Warriors to the national tournament. It was House’s second year as head coach of men’s basketball at RLC. But it was his first recruiting class after being handed a roster when he took over.
“I tell coach [House] I’m coming back all the time. He tells me I’m going to have to walk on and be a waterboy,” Roland joked, but admitted choosing a school was a tough decision.
“I talked it over with the family and they basically put it in my hands,” Roland said. His mother, Angelia Roland, still lives in Louisville. He said he’ll major in physical therapy at Utah State.
“They’ve got a nice program out there,” he said. “A hundred percent of their students graduate each year. It’s going to be a great experience.”
“Anytime one of our guys moves on to a four-year school – at any division – we’ve done our job,” House said. “That makes us successful and helps us recruit. That’s the goal of a community college.
“TeNale came to practice most every day, worked hard and didn’t cause us a problem off the court,” House added. “He is the type of kid we want to coach a whole team of every year. We had a bunch of those this year and hopefully we’ll experience that again next year. TeNale is focused on where he wants to go and everything he has, he has earned.”
Roland said confidence that he would be going NCAA DI was high about midway through the season.
“It made me work harder. Once you get those schools [showing interest], you’ve got to work hard to be successful and keep them.
“Utah State is the best fit for me to be successful,” he said. “They’ve got a nice team coming back – a couple of Juco transfers coming in and a transfer from Oklahoma State.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Roland is the “veteran floor leader USU coaches had been seeking to round out the roster.”
“I see myself competing for a starting spot at the point guard position,” Roland said. “Obviously, you’ve got to work for it, come in and compete against players that are already there. I envision myself playing a big role, providing some leadership, quickness and toughness.”
Adding to his chances of being a starter: The Tribune also reported that walk-on point guard EJ Farris, who backed up senior Brockeith Pane this past season, will not return. Roland signed last Tuesday, following the weekend signings of 6-3 shooting guard Spencer Butterfield, the California Junior College Co-Player of the Year, and 6-5 small forward Marvin Jean, out of Sullivan Community College in New York. Roland is reportedly the final addition to the Aggies’ 2012-13 roster.
Utah State competes in the Western Atlantic Conference against teams like Nevada, Idaho, Wichita State and Hawaii. The Aggies went 23-16 last season and set a school-record postseason run that ended in a three-point loss at the College Insider Tournament championship game against Mercer.
Roland said USU is installing a new scoreboard and gym floor for next season.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “The team has nice chemistry. When I played open gym out there, I liked the team.”
To players considering going to Rend Lake, Roland said, “We play in one of the toughest conferences in junior college basketball – the GRAC. You are going up against top competition every night, people who are going to play DI, every game. The coaching staff is amazing here. They work with you on and off the court. We’ve got one of the best gyms in Illinois. If you come here, they are going to work with you on your grades. The teachers are going to help you.”
View the complete list of NJCAA DII All-Americans at www.njcaa.org.