Terry Rozier adds mass and gains toughness

University of Louisville sophomore guard Terry Rozier is expected to have a breakout season. Rozier has added some bulk and gained some toughness on the floor for the Cardinals.

Terry Rozier had a solid – but not great – freshman season as a backup to Russ Smith and Chris Jones for the University of Louisville basketball team.

Rozier played in 37 games for the Cardinals, starting 10 times, made the American Athletic Conference (AAC) all-rookie team and scored in double figures 10 times.

But with the All-American Smith and Jones running the show most of the time, the 6-1 Rozier was just a role player for the Cardinals.

Now, his role has drastically changed.

Rozier, who turned in what one NBA scout described as “a ridiculously good summer” on the camp scene, will be one of the prime-time players for the Cardinals, and he’s ready for a breakout season.

“Wait until you see him,” sophomore teammate Mangok Mathiang said. “He’s so much better and so much stronger. He’ll be one of the best guards in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference).”

And some think he will be one of the best guards in the country.

Rozier is considered by some as a player who potentially could leave after this season for the NBA draft, and coming out of the summer several NBA sites had moved him into the first round of their mock drafts. He was a standout at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas and the adidas Nations event in California this summer.

“Freshmen don’t struggle here physically, but it’s mentally with all of the different defenses that we play,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “Really, that’s where freshmen struggle, and then they blossom as sophomores.

“I would hope that’s what happens to Terry.”

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Rozier had a sensational season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., before coming to U of L. He averaged 23.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game at Hargrave.

As a freshman at U of L, Rozier started strong with just four turnovers in the first 14 games of the season. He was averaging 5.7 points a game and totaled double figures in points three times and rebounds once in the early stages of the season.

Rozier finished the season averaging 7.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He had the highest three-point shooting percentage (37.1 percent) of any freshman in the AAC and had just 22 turnovers in 699 minutes.

“It was good, but not great,” Rozier said. “I need to be more aggressive. I didn’t have a lot of turnovers last year and a lot of people look at that and think it’s good, but I wasn’t really aggressive, and that’s why.

“I am usually more aggressive, and need to be this season.”

Rozier has put on around 15 pounds of weight – he’s up to 190 – and has tried to hone his point-guard skills. Pitino said the team will play “two one guards” like the Cardinals have in recent years, with the guard who gets the outlet turning into the point guard and the other being the two guard.

“I want to show I can play point guard,” Rozier said. “In our system, the 1 and 2 do the same thing. I’ve been working a lot on the pull-up. I worked on that a lot and have gotten better at it - anything to show I can play the point guard role.”

With the added weight, Rozier said he thinks he can withstand the beating and banging that he expects to see in the ACC this season.

“It’s going to help me take the contact and finish,” he said. “It’s always better with a few more pounds on you. I’m excited for the year. We have been going harder than we ever have before and everybody is doing a good job.”

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