STARKVILLE — “He’s one of those players you’re looking for, a tough player who isn’t afraid to get dirty, dive to the ground, play hard, play for his teammates” sounds like a quote about a role player , a guy without much natural talent but who works hard in training and plays hard when he comes into games.
But in this case, those words describe a player who is also qualified enough to win a basketball scholarship. They were from Starkville High School boys’ basketball coach Woodie Howard, and they talked about 6-foot-4, senior Senavion Roby, who announced Friday that he will continue his academic and athletic career at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville.
“When the going got tough.. he didn’t mind sticking his nose into it,” Howard said. “So that brought everyone along.”
This kind of leadership added to his skills and drive called for a high quality program such as Jones. In their last three full seasons, the Bobcats have posted records of 17-8, 20-7 and 21-7.
“I know a lot about the academics.. and they’re the only JUCO in Mississippi to have won a national championship,” said Roby, who plans to study business at Jones.
That NJCAA title came in 2014, when the Bobcats beat Indian Hills Community College in Iowa 87-77 for the crown. But the current team also attracts Roby.
“Coach (Newton) Mealer made me feel at home,” Roby said. Mealer just completed his freshman year at Jones after a highly successful 12-year tenure at Center Hill High School, where he led his teams to seven district championships, five Elite 8 appearances, four state tournaments, two finals at four and the 2019 Class 5A Championship.
Roby said the chance to play in a system similar to the one he played in Starkville was a key factor.
Howard said Roby looked like a future college player in his freshman year.
“In ninth grade, he was always eager to improve,” Howard said. “He was still growing and had a game that kind of translated to the college level. … I knew he would get better and I knew the colleges would want him as the season progressed.
Roby said he considered Itawamba Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College before choosing Jones.
“I’m going to play the best I can, whether it’s rebounding, defensively, whatever,” he said.