- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Basketball wasn’t a choice for Colorado’s Andre Roberson. It was a birthright.
His father played college basketball at New Mexico State. And two of his sisters played the game at high levels, too.
“I’m kind of used to being around it all the time,” Roberson told ESPN.com.
His oldest sister, Ashlee, averaged 12.2 ppg at Texas Tech in 2009-10. Another sister, Amber, plays volleyball at Texas. She was on the Big 12’s preseason all-conference squad. His youngest sister, Arielle, is a freshman on Colorado’s basketball team.
Roberson initially claimed that his athletic sisters rarely beat him in their youthful competitions. When asked if a phone call to his siblings would confirm his account, he wisely altered his story.
“They kind of beat me a couple times, but I always came back,” Roberson said. “It doesn’t happen anymore.”
The competition in the Roberson home in San Antonio was constant. It’s where Roberson learned his grit and toughness -- he’s averaging 11.3 points, a Pac-12-high 11.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
He’s a significant component in Colorado’s 3-0 start in the Pac-12 and position atop the league’s standings. The Buffaloes are on a six-game winning streak.
Last week, Colorado coach Tad Boyle compared his sophomore star to former NBA rebounding king Dennis Rodman.
“It’s cool. I consider myself being me, but I guess you could compare me to him,” Roberson said.
Will he ever dye his hair like the eccentric Rodman?
“Not at all,” he said.
As long as he plays like the ex-Bulls star, his coaches and teammates will be happy.
Roberson is No. 43 on Chad Ford’s list of NBA prospects for this summer’s draft. His father, John, competed professionally overseas.
Roberson said he wants to play pro basketball one day but it isn’t his top priority. Right now, he’s committed to stubborn defense and aggressive rebounding, two traits that he recognized as missing elements at Colorado last season.
Behind Roberson’s tough D, the Buffaloes have the league’s fourth-best scoring defense (61.6 ppg). He has recorded seven blocks and three steals in three Pac-12 games.
Too many players emphasize offense alone, he said. Roberson, however, said he’d rather make an impact on the other end of the floor.
“I just feel like that’s kind of a lost art and not a lot people do that,” he said. “I just kind of give myself to that.”
Roberson said he believes Colorado is talented enough to earn an NCAA tournament bid. Upcoming road matchups against Cal and Stanford will be major tests for the Buffaloes who can surge in a conference that appears to be wide open.
But basketball isn’t Roberson’s only concern.
His younger sister, Arielle, underwent hip surgery last month and will have to redshirt her freshman season at Colorado. Roberson said he’s also focused on helping his sister get through the process.
“I see it in her face that she wants to be out there and help the team,” Roberson said. “I just try to keep her spirits up. It’s kind of hard, but it also motivates me.”
Rebounding, defense … and family. Roberson remains committed to all three.