By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
DESPITE the challenges of the offseason, Azaro Roker intends for his final season with the St Francis Xavier X-Men basketball programme to be the best of his collegiate career.
Roker’s transformation from lightly recruited role player to team leader was highlighted this year with a series of postseason accolades, including a U Sports All-Canadian Second Team selection, an Atlantic University Sport conference tournament All-Star and AUS First Team selection.
“Being a player that had no huge interest [from other schools] to becoming an All-Canadian and AUS All-Star, it has been a privilege and so great to see the hard work pay off,” he said to Undress The Jersey.
“I think that having the right mindset and a mentally ready attitude toward the game or anything you do will lead you to success.”
He was one of only three players in the league to average a double double. He led the conference in rebounding at 13.2 per game and was second in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
His numbers increased across the board in every statistical category from year three, when he averaged 10 points and was a conference leader with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots per game.
Like all athletes, Roker is struggling with limited resources due to restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic but has lofty goals as his final year also coincides with the 45th and final season of Steve Konchalski as head coach of X-Men men’s basketball.
“Staying in shape this offseason has been a bit challenging, but I still have some goals that I have this season, I want to put on 10 pounds of pure muscle,” he said.
“Next season we have a whole lot happening. As you know, Coach K, the legendary coach is retiring and this year we get to host nationals so we are working hard just to make sure that we are ready to fight and compete against anybody.”
Roker was named All-Canadian during a ceremony at the U SPORTS Final 8 Basketball Championships in February. The X-Men were eliminated in the AUS conference title game, one game shy of a national tournament berth.
“Being in Ottawa without my team it was kind of heartbreaking to know that you were so close to making it to nationals but it was a great experience to be amongst the top Canadians in the league and it was an honour to be mentioned among them.”
At the team level, he was named X-Men team MVP and was the recipient of the Llyod Knickle Leadership award, given by their Blue and White X-Press Booster Club, for outstanding leadership.
Roker and the X-Men scored the biggest upset of the U SPORTS season with a thrilling win over the nationally ranked No. 2 ranked Dalhousie Tigers. The X-Men scored a 78-77 win and Roker finished with another double double - 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The X-Men concluded the season with a loss to Dalhousie in the AUS title game. Roker finished with 12 points and a game high 13 rebounds for the X-Men.
Among his many standout performances on the season, Roker was named the “Subway Player of the Game” when he posted career highs of 30 points and 20 rebounds in the X-Men’s 117-116 overtime win over the Cape Breton Capers. Roker shot 11-17 from the field and was a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line in 41 minutes.
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