Magnum Rolle worked out with the Washington Wizards on June 2, 2010 along with Jerome Dyson, Devin Ebanks and Devin Sweetney. Below is a narrative of Rolle’s basketball career, scouting report, and video footage of his workout with the Wizards and media interview.
Magnum Rolle grew up a skinny kid riding his bike around the beaches of the Bahamas. He didn’t pick up a basketball until age 15 and turned 17 in February of his first season playing at the high school level. He quickly became a sensation, gaining attention of college coaches from big time programs who flew down to catch a glimpse of the island mystery.
To prepare himself for college, basketball-wise and academically, Rolle moved to the United States to play at Laurinberg Prep in North Carolina, a former prep school powerhouse which has since fallen on hard times.
Laurinberg is a historically all-black prep school that’s steeped basketball tradition. Past players include Celtics great and NBA Hall of Famer Sam Jones, 10-year NBA vet Charlie Scott (70-71 ABA Rookie ROY, multi-time all-star), Earl “the Goat” Manigault (the famed NY-bred Rucker Park baller who Don Cheadle played in a movie), and Chris Washburn. More recent players include Antonio Anderson, Renaldo Balkman, Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier and Shawne Williams. Famed trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie also attended Laurinberg on a music scholarship.
Last year, the NCAA, amongst attempts to crack down on institutions with questionable academic records, reviewed Laurinberg and declared the school’s athletes ineligible to compete at the NCAA level. In a must-read profile on DiverseEducation.com, Peter Galuszka touches on this and a number of other aspects surrounding the school.
In 2005, Rolle’s Laurinberg team went 40-0, winning a prep school national championship. He was ranked the 18th best prospect in the country by Rivals.com and played in the ’05 Jordan Classic with the likes of Andrew Bynum, Tyler Hansbrough, Louis Williams, Martell Webster, Julian Wright and Andray Blatche. Rolle had 7 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in 22 minutes.
Measured at 6’9″, 200 lbs. at the time, Jonathan Waters of Draft Express wrote, “he is a freak athlete, though his twig-like frame makes Blatche look like a defensive tackle.” Blatche, considered skinny himself at the time, weighed in at 6’11″, 230 lbs.
From Laurinberg, Rolle enrolled at Louisiana State University, after being on the radar of schools like Cincinnati, Arizona, Memphis, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, USC and Villanova, according to Rivals.
As a freshman, along with Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Tyrus Thomas and Darrel Mitchell, he helped drive the John Brady coached Tigers to the 2006 Final Four, also the year George Mason went. Eli Saslow of the Washington Post profiled that LSU team in a piece titled, “Trying to Balance Student and Athlete.” It’s really an interesting read that a depicts a during-tournament tutoring session as a chaotic free-for-all with distractions aplenty. Why mobile phones were allowed in the session is a mystery to me.
Coincidentally, that ’06 Tournament featured seven Laurinberg players in the Elite Eight. Rolle and Chris Johnson attended LSU, and four of the aforementioned (Anderson, Dorsey, Dozier and Williams), along with Kareem Cooper attended Memphis to play under then Tigers coach John Calipari. It was as if Laurinberg was Coach Cal’s de facto minor league team.
After averaging 8.7 minutes, 2.2 points on 46.2 FG% and 2.5 rebounds his freshman year, Rolle saw his playing time increase to 16.7 minutes per game his sophomore year, including nine starts. But his production didn’t really improve. His FG% dipped to 43.1, and his Points Per/40 fell from 9.9 to 9.5 as did his Rebounds Per/40 from 11.4 to 9.7.
LSU’s ’06-07 season wasn’t nearly as successful as their Final Four run. The Tigers finished 17-15 (5-11 in the SEC), marking the demise of coach John Brady, a man whose demeanor wasn’t thought highly of in SEC circles. Rolle and his family decided it was time for him leave LSU. In a statement released by the University, Brady indicated that there was a disagreement with the way Rolle was being developed.
More controversy emerged when Rolle’s coach in the Bahamas, Darrell Sears, blasted Brady for how the circumstances went down, according to a report by Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com. Brady lasted just one more season coaching the Tigers before being let go in 2008. He’s now at Arkansas State.
After considering Marshall, Wyoming and Delaware, Rolle transferred to Louisiana Tech. It’s also clear that the caliber of schools knocking at Rolle’s door had diminished.
Rolle said he was able to flourish under LaTech coach Kerry Rupp, a Rick Majerus disciple, which he made sure to mention when I spoke with him after his workout with the Wizards. He said he was allowed to play with less restriction and through his mistakes, areas the Goodman article implicated that Brady was less patient about.
After sitting out the ’07-08 season, Rolle’s numbers improved with more time on the court. In 28.2 minutes per game, he averaged 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and shot 53% from the field. His PER jumped from 13.9 as a soph at LSU to 23.5 as a junior. He was named to the All-WAC Newcomer and All-WAC defensive teams. Of course, the WAC is vastly different in talent in comparison to the SEC.
Magnum declared for the 2009 NBA Draft but withdrew and returned to school when it became apparent that he wasn’t ready.
In his final season, Rolle’s numbers improved slightly: 30.1 minutes, 13.9 points, 51.4 FG%, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, which led the WAC conference, and a PER of 23.6. He was named to the Lefty Driesell All-American defensive team, the All-WAC defensive team and the All-WAC second team.
Rolle is undoubtedly a fine athlete. He has capable lateral movement for his 6’11″ height, as he sometimes played at the top of Louisiana Tech’s 1-3-1 zone defense, akin to VCU’s Larry Sanders and West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks. Rolle also has decent handles, potential for a solid mid-range game and runs the floor well.
However, people still have a lot of questions about Magnum’s strength, hustle and overall ability to compete on the NBA stage. He currently does not appear in either the DraftExpress or NBADraft.net mock drafts. He also opted to not participate in the Portsmouth Invitation, unrecommended for a player with on-the-cusp status. When asked about what indication he’s been given by other teams in terms of draft position, Rolle said, “I’ve been kinda staying away from all that.”
Prior to the Wizards, he’d worked out for the Heat (2010 draft picks #18, 41, 42 & 48), Bucks (#15, 37 & 47) and Thunder (#21, 26 32 & 51), and said he was moving on to the Nets (#3, 27 & 31) and the Bobcats (zero picks) after Washington. Out of all of these, I’d keep an eye on Miami or Oklahoma City to take a chance on Magnum with their last picks, depending on who’s available and already filled needs.
So a lot of teams are interested in Rolle’s potential. He’s also trained with in Chicago with Tim Grover, which could certainly be seen as a plus on his resume.
But the big caveat is that he’ll be 25 in February 2011. He spent five years in college, time in prep school, and according a profile by Andrew Coakley of The Freeport News, had major academic struggles in high school, causing him to repeat a couple grades. But basketball has brought him a long way. He now has a degree from Louisiana Tech, making Magnum the first of his family to graduate from college.
Watching a couple of his videos, I like Rolle’s offensive instinct. He has nice touch from mid-range and up close. He also seems to have the length to get off shots at the NBA level, if he adjusts his jumper some. He doesn’t have a high release point like other jump shooting bigs such as Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, Juwan Howard and Marcus Camby.
Rolle said NBA teams are looking for him to improve his perimeter skills and versatility in being able to work inside and out. To make it in the league, Magnum will have to prove to be a force on the defensive end with blocks and rebounds, and must also show ability to guard on the perimeter. If not drafted, count on him being on somebody’s team in Vegas.
Pre-Draft Wizards Workout & Interview
- Magnum Rolle v. JaVale McGee [Kevin McCarthy, Parsing The WAC -- also compares Rolle to Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph]
- When destiny and faith cross paths [Andrew Coakley, The Freeport News]