U of L hoops feature: Terry Rozier

The eighth in a series of stories published by Cardinal Authority on individual members of the University of Louisville basketball team. The latest installment looks at freshman Terry Rozier.

To listen to Terry Rozier tell it, he's experiencing "a dream come true."

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard from Cleveland, Oh., has been thinking of what it would be like to play at the University of Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino for years. It began when he learned of the story of Brooklyn, N.Y., point guard Sebastian Telfair. A 2005 documentary on the prep phenom's decision to forgo his commitment to U of L for the opportunity to play professionally directly out of Lincoln High School made an impression on Rozier.

"The documentary on Sebastian Telfair when I was young I used to watch it, I was in the sixth grade," Rozier said of his desire to become a Cardinal. "I used to love football at that time, and I even watched it before I started playing AAU. AAU made me start liking basketball more, so when I started liking basketball over football I would still watch that documentary and even up to now. I still watch it now before every game."

Rozier signed a Letter of Intent with U of L in November 2011 following an All-State career at Shaker Heights High School, but academic shortcomings forced him to enroll at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. As Rozier focused on improving in the classroom, he also continued to fine tune his on court game.

"I'm definitely excited," Rozier said. "It's something that I'm ready for. I'm ready to show everybody what I'm about. They've been waiting and I've been waiting because of the things that I went through, but I'm finally here now."

Louisville fans had a taste when Hargrave participated in the Louisville Hoopfest at Iroquois High School in January.

Facing Action Sports Academy, a squad loaded with future Division I players, the future Cardinal put on a show for a packed house at Iroquois High School. Despite not starting and playing with a bum ankle, Rozier poured in a school record 68 points in a 139-135 double overtime victory. From penetrating layups to an 8 of 14 effort beyond the three-point arc, his points came from everywhere. Rozier, who also grabbed 11 rebounds in the win, converted 22 of 24 free throw attempts.

Then U of L assistant and current Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino provided high praise when evaluating Rozier has a high school prospect.

As a high school senior, Rozier rated as the No.68 prospect in the country by Scout.com, and even lower by other services, but that didn't matter to the younger Pitino. His belief was that Rozier was "one of the top three guards in the country."

"Richard in evaluating him, he would put him as one of the top three guards in the country," said Pitino. "I followed his lead and we recruited him very hard. I think you'll see he's a pro, too. He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion - negative emotion. He plays every possession just like a pro would play it."

Rozier's game has drawn comparisons to Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwayne Wade.

"People say I'm smooth like him."

"I love [Dwayne Wade]," he said. "I've grown up watching D Wade since I was young and Allen Iverson. I wouldn't say that I try to be like them, but some people say that I play like them because I've been watching them since I was young, so I take some of the things that they do."

His play during the Cardinals preseason scrimmages has grabbed headlines. He highlighted the first Red-White scrimmage box score with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. He averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists during the three public scrimmages.

His play in the team's 115-67 exhibition win over Kentucky Wesleyan, Rozier continued to shine. He totaled a team-high 9 rebounds to go alongside 18 points and 4 assists.

"Very impressed with the way Terry Rozier rebounds the ball from the guard spot," said Pitino. "He did that all throughout high school. That's a big plus when a guard can rebound like that."

Rozier credits his determination to attack the board for rebounds to the toughness he learned from his mother.

"I was always taught by my mom and my high school coach that it is always about toughness," he explained. "Rebounding is not a skill, it's all about your toughness and heart."

Reaching the NBA is among the goals that motivate Rozier and while he admits that a Rick Pitino practice can be "tough," he is willing to do whatever is asked of him.

"He's a Hall of Famer and I would do anything he tells me to do to get me to that next level and I know he's capable of doing it," he said. "He's a great coach."

Louisville will open the season on November 9 when College of Charleston visits the KFC Yum! Center. It's a moment that Rozier has long anticipated.

"It's something that I've dreamed of since I was young."

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