A back to back state champion and most valuable player from New Living Word High School (NLWS) has signed with Grambling State.
Six-foot-seven senior, Javier Roper, was named MVP for the second year in a row averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per game.
This first team all-star had signed to Grambling State University’s gainless basketball program in November of last year.
“As I weighed my options, I feel like Grambling was the best program for me,” said Roper, “They really needed my help and I can help them a lot.”
Roper, who is graduating from New Living Word on May 17 with a 3.7 grade point average, is also exploring the art of fatherhood, which is one of the reasons he decided to stay close to home.
“My daughter played a major role in my decision,” said Roper. I wasn’t ready to leave her at all.”
The all-state forward turned down offers from Oregon State, Arkansas, Wichita State, and Southern.
“A lot of the media said that I am a big steal for Grambling because they expected me to go to LSU or Baylor. So I kind of shocked them when I chose Grambling,” said Roper.
NLWS Coach Jerry Baldwin said, “I‘m excited for Roper and thinks he will be a great asset to GSU.”
Kinesiology professor and also assistant coach of the New Living Word boys basketball team, Larry Donnell Proctor inspired the young prospect to consider Grambling.
“I encouraged Roper to give thought to an HBCU as opposed to a predominately white institution,” said Proctor.
Proctor came up with the idea by way of his reading of Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden. The book centers on black athletes in the United States with a segment that tells the story of University of Michigan’s “Fab Five”: Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, and Juwan Howard.
“When the Fab Five were playing AAU ball together, they said they would attend the University of Michigan,” said Proctor.
“When those guys were asked, ‘Why don’t you take your talents to an HBCU?’ They replied, ‘Well the HBCUs don’t have proper facilities. They don’t have a weight room. They don’t have shoe contracts. They don’t have TV contracts and we want to go where those things can be made available to us.’”
Proctor mentioned that to Roper and told him that 30 years ago athletes like him were choosing HBCUs because they couldn’t go to the PWIs.
“Nowadays, HBCUs can’t compete with those predominately white institutions because most of the black athletes are going there and being given scholarship and aid,” Proctor told Roper. “Yes, they have better facilities and have more resources, but, on another level, you can began to change all of that.”
“I can score the ball, I can rebound, I hustle, and I play great defense, but it’s going to take more than me,” said Roper. “We still got Mark (Gray) and Remond (Brown) and I feel like we got what it takes.”