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André Roberson's NM State Connection

Like many in Aggie Nation, I’ve welcomed the NBA restart back with earnestness and am thoroughly enjoying the most competitive playoffs we’ve seen in a decade. As a college basketball-first fan, I like to draw as many connections to the college game as I can, asking “where did that guy go?” and “when was he drafted?.” I shared some of this with you all earlier this month when I released the all-WAC NBA team, featuring the best players from the WAC who are now hooping in the league. I couldn’t help but draw another NM State connection as I watch the Oklahoma City Thunder and I’d like to share this one with you too.

Aggie hall of famer, Johnny Roberson (1985-89), met his wife, Lisa, also an NM State student athlete during their time on campus in the early eighties. Johnny, was a double-double machine on the basketball court and Lisa, a top ten Aggie in kills and digs all-time on the volleyball court. Shortly after their standout careers for NM State, their first-born son, André, arrived in 1991 in Las Cruces. Spending the early years of his life in Cruces, André had crimson running through his veins before moving with the family to the San Antonio area.

André was a standout for Wagner high school where he became a three-star recruit and was ranked the 62nd best power forward in the 2010 class. Roberson was recruited by the likes of Clemson, Penn State, Tulsa, and UNLV before signing at The University of Colorado. Notably absent amongst his college suitors was NM State. Johnny told the Albuquerque Journal in 2012 that he attempted to contact the staff at NM State to put André on their radar but to no avail. André joins a list of former Aggie offspring who end up signing elsewhere than their parent’s alma mater, notably, Zach Norvell’s (1998-2001) son, Zach Norvell Jr., Orlando Febres' (1982-86) son (Jase Febres) currently plays at Texas; Elston Jones' (1982-86) son (Elston Jones Jr.) played at Utah State and later UC Irvine--a common thread of Aggie legacies being cut short.

André clearly benefited from his parents’ athletic genes and went on to be a standout at Colorado where he averaged a near double-double in his three years there. In 2013, he was drafted in the first round by Minnesota and quickly acquired in a trade by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Roberson has enjoyed a seven-year NBA career as OKC’s defensive ace averaging 4.6 points and 4 rebounds a game.

While his game differs from his father’s as more of a perimeter player, their defensive intensity and nose for rebounds are a mirror image of each other. When asked who would win in one-on-one, Johnny told the Albuquerque Journal, “I don’t think he could handle me back in my prime with what I know now.” Standing one inch taller than his son, the 6’8” Johnny played more under the basket than André. This led to Johnny leading the Aggies in shot blocking all four years he was there and landed him in the top ten in all-time rebounds and top five in all-time blocked shots with 98. In fact, at the time Johnny graduated, he was eighth on the all-time scoring list, and he could do it all with 103 steals, landing him fourth all-time. Watching André play, it’s clear his father’s game is imprinted on his son’s, along with his willingness to do the little things to help his team win.

Though not an Aggie himself, André exemplifies the Aggie spirit; a hard nosed rebounder who thinks defense first. He would have made a phenomenal addition to the Menzies era. On the Aggie roster or not, I’m glad a Las Crucen and an Aggie legacy has made such a name for himself on the biggest stage in the world.

You can catch the Cruceño, André Roberson and the Oklahoma City Thunder take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets in game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs this afternoon on TNT.

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