Next up in our Fresh Faces series, we will be getting to know incoming freshman Luis Rolón. If you’re not caught up on our Summer Flyers and Fresh Faces articles featuring Zach Anderson and Eli Abaev, you can follow the links below. Additionally, check out our recent interviews with head coach Michael Fly, Dana Caldwell, and Brett Comer!
In our series of Fresh Faces articles, we will feature the newcomers set to join the Eagles for the upcoming 2020-21 season. As our first Summer Flyer has already highlighted Eli Abaev, we will be kicking off this series starting with Apopka High School graduate, Zach Anderson. The name ‘Zach’ has been pretty good for […]
While the season is over and all major sports have suspended play, there is still news to be discussed and dissected. Amid these unforseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, FGCU has made quick work to retool their roster heading into the summer. They have done so by announcing transfers, awarding scholarships, and acquiring new talent. Below we […]
Ep. 36: Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Invitational – Post Tournament Pod – FGCU Sweeps the Competition – Screecher Report
Luis Rolón will enter the program as a freshman out of Central Pointe Christian Academy (CPCA) in Kissimmee, FL. Based on highlights and word of mouth, he is an exciting talent who possesses an invaluable set of skills and instincts. In our first Fresh Faces article, we compared Zach Anderson’s potential style and role to that of legendary FGCU forward, Chase Fieler. At 6’3″ and 185 lbs, Luis has drawn similarly lofty comparisons with a different FGCU legend. Before getting further into that, we will take a look into Luis’ story and journey to FGCU up to this point.
To speak on Luis’ time at CPCA, there is nobody better than Athletic Director and Head Coach, Richie Dalmau. Dalmau has had an illustrious career to this point. As a player he garnered Puerto Rican National Team honors and participated in several international events, including the 1996 Olympic Games. But Dalmau has also been a star off the court (He’s literally the guitarist in a band called Sueño de Hormiga, seriously, look it up). Dalmau has found success as a coach, putting a small school (under 300 kids) like CPCA on the map. In the last few years, CPCA has become a hotbed for D-I recruiting and a consistent threat to win a state title.
CPCA’s quick and steady rise mirrors that of the subject of this article. Coach Dalmau commented on Rolón’s development while at CPCA. “[I coached Luis for] 3 years and they were tremendous. He came to Central Pointe overweight and raw in his abilities. He didn’t know how to play the point guard position. He used to play multiple positions from the 2 to the 4. We saw the potential he had as a point guard and he bought into it. He learned that he needed to improve his work ethic in order to become a D-I player and he surely did. He took it seriously and turned into one of the hardest workers in our program.”
The Growth / The Skills
The work and self awareness to turn oneself into a D-I athlete cannot be understated. Rolón’s transition to point guard was not always easy. He had to develop his skills and create a style of his own. Luckily, he had his coach, a former point guard, in his ear to show him the ropes. Dalmau stated “[He worked hard and] became a true point guard. In that regard, [he became] better than I ever was.” Luis developed his style into a traditional, pass-first point guard. Coach Dalmau spoke on some of Rolón’s best traits. “His best traits have to be his court vision and toughness. You won’t find anyone tougher than Luis on the court. His court vision and just his ability to find the open man and get him the ball is incredible.”
Further evidence of Rolón’s development is his ability to lead a program. Coach Dalmau shed light on this. “Luis became our most important player on the court. He ran the team, played tough defense, and scored a lot of big buckets for us down the stretch of the season on the way to winning a state championship.“
And win the state championship, they did. Rolón played an integral part on the road to winning the title, driving to the basket for tough layups or dishing it out to the open man. His flashy passing, court vision, and overall playmaking ability earned him the nickname “El Mago” (The Magician).
With so much growth, development, and team success, one would assume that Rolón deserved quite a bit of hype and attention from D-I programs. Surprisingly, he was late in catching the eye of many scouts and FGCU was his first D-I offer. Coach Fly commented on this stating that “Luis had no D-I offers. When I first saw him, I could see that he was a really good passer and that he’s really competitive, but he doesn’t fit the prototypical body type of the [modern] point guard [or] the point guard we’ve had here in the [recent] past. He’s not an elite athlete, he’s not a fast-twitch guy. [Rather], he’s a big strong kid who can REALLY pass the ball and is built [very] similar to Brett Comer. Initially, we were there to [evaluate and recruit] Victor [Rosa] (another incoming freshman) because he could shoot the ball at a high level and has been a high level shot maker. [But the more we were there], the more we evaluated Luis. He was the one helping Victor [Rosa] get those wide open looks and leading a program through passing ability and toughness. You kind of have to trust your eyes and not think about him not having any D-I offers. [Essentially we told them] we don’t want one of you, we want both of you.”
The early evaluation of Rolón and the commitment to signing both he and Rosa, seems to have worked out favorably for coach Fly and the staff. Shortly after receiving his first D-I offer from FGCU, Rolón wound up receiving offers from a slew of other schools including Stetson, UMass, and Coastal Carolina, but ultimately decided on being an Eagle.
Another freshman and another comparison to an FGCU legend. While long term hopes and expectations for Luis are lofty, initial expectations should be kept in check. After all, Brett Comer wasn’t the player in year one that he ended up being by his senior season. So what can we expect from Rolón in the short term? Coach Dalmau speculated on Luis’ impact for the Eagles and what he will bring to the table. “He’s a great teammate and a great competitor. He’s unselfish and he is sure to bring toughness every game. Nobody can stop him driving to the basket because if he’s not scoring, he’s finding the open man. He has improved his shooting ability but has room to grow in that area. You will see a complete player in a few years. I think Luis is a high-major D-I player and he can become one of the best pure point guards in the country.“
That’s very high praise for an incoming freshman, even coming from a former coach. With some exceptions, freshmen have seldom played a significant amount of minutes at FGCU. Fortunately, Coach Fly has now put the team in a position where freshmen and underclassmen, in general, no longer need to be relied upon to contribute in a big way, until they are ready. Still, Rolón projects to be the backup point guard behind rising senior, Jalen Warren. Rolón should have plenty of opportunity, especially early in the season, to showcase what he can offer to the team as a freshman.
Rolón will be given the time he needs to develop and grow into the role that the coaching staff envisions for him. There have been many dynamic point guards to don the Green and Blue. Brett Comer, Brandon Goodwin, Zach Johnson, and even a guy like Shadrac Casimir, all brought something unique to the table. Those latter 3 names were, for the most part, scoring guards in systems that catered or adapted to their skills. But in a Michael Fly system that intends and hopes to draw from the, Andy Enfield led, Dunk City team, a true pass first point guard like Brett Comer is ideal. As Rolón learns and develops, he will have a great example of what he could become, hanging in the rafters and painted on the walls of Alico Arena. Fans will have to wait and see what comes of Rolón’s career but right now, there is comfort knowing that Coach Fly feels he has found another piece to help right the ship and keep it on track for years to come.