|Article originally published on The Daily Titan|
He comes to Fullerton from Cuesta Junior College in San Luis Obispo, but hails from a small town 40 minutes outside of Barcelona, Spain. Madadepera to be exact.
Meet Roger Guardia, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, who not only has the experience of playing nationally for his country, but also brings skill, determination and grit to fit into Titan Head Coach Bob Burton’s system.
Guardia, 25-year-old senior, who has been playing basketball since he was eight years old, decided a couple years back that it was time for a change, so he came to California.
“I was at an architecture school in Spain playing ball where I realized I needed a change in my life to see different things, especially with basketball,” Guardia said.
So Guardia took his talents to Cuesta, where he played for Rusty Blair, a former professional basketball player in Europe, who helped him feel comfortable with the transition. After two years, and an impressive second season, in which Guardia averaged more than 15 points a game, he drew the attention of many schools across the country.
With all of the different phone calls and emails he received, Guardia chose Cal State Fullerton.
“I liked the idea of staying in California and staying close to my friends. I liked the program, the coaches, the school,” Guardia said.
The coaches and players like him too, especially junior forward Sedric Martin, who has already seen a great deal of commitment out of Guardia.
“Roger is a hard worker off the top, and I have never seen anyone run as hard as he does.” Martin said.
The great work ethic was just one of the aspects that Coach Burton saw in Guardia when recruiting him to come play for the Titans.
“The biggest thing I saw is that he could shoot (the ball) and his skill level. I didn’t know he would be as tough as he is and play as hard as he does. Those have really been pleasurable things,” Burton said.
Guardia is currently competing for the starting spot. He has shown the team so far that he is comfortable with the ball in his hands and right now is working hard to gain the trust from both the players and coaches.
But adjustment from playing basketball internationally and then at a junior college, to now playing at Division I ball at CSUF, has not been an easy one for Guardia. With a different style of basketball that is more uptempo than he is used to, Guardia’s transition remains a work in progress.
“(The coaches) are really helping me adjust to the Div. I program. The competition is a lot more physical than what I am used to,” Guardia said.
Burton knows that Guardia’s game will only get better and believes that in order for him to be successful he needs to score more.
“His personality is that he is really unselfish. He likes to be a facilitator and pass that ball,” Burton said.
Along with tougher competition, there is also a language barrier between both Guardia and the team. Being able to communicate with a player of international descent like Guardia has taken some getting used to. Basketball is a reaction game, and being able to communicate is an immensely important aspect in being successful on the court.
“Obviously the language problem is huge,” Burton said. “We try to slow down, and try and get it across to him to stop us if he doesn’t understand something.”
Communication is just a small hurdle that Guardia is sure to climb as he brings his basketball career to CSUF.
“He is really popular and is a terrific guy. As soon as he learns everything, he will fit in just fine,” Burton said.