2023 Bloomington North forward JQ Roberts talks junior season, Indiana Junior All-Star selection

  • 04/20/2022 8:20 am in

His high school coach described him as a “lockdown” defender — a player who can guard all five positions on the floor. And offensively, JQ Roberts is becoming more and more efficient.

Versatile might be the best way to describe the 6-foot-7, Bloomington North forward, who is coming off an impressive junior campaign.

Following a loss to St. Mary’s in the NCAA tournament, Mike Woodson was asked about areas of improvement Indiana needs to make moving forward. He mentioned shooting and perimeter defense. In Roberts, Woodson would get both.

Roberts, who was named an Indiana Junior All-Star on April 6, finished his junior season averaging 14.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Cougars, who finished 24-4 and won a Class 4A regional title on March 12. He shot over 50 percent from the field and was 30-for-80 (37.5 percent) from behind the arc.

Roberts will compete with the Red Group of Indiana Junior All-Stars, which will play the Kentucky Junior All-Stars on June 5.

“It is an amazing accomplishment,” Roberts said. “Not too many people get this opportunity. I am going to use it to the fullest.”

Roberts earned a scholarship offer from IU on Oct. 8, 2021 and currently has 10 offers, according to 247Sports. The three-star forward’s latest offer came from Marquette on Jan. 28. Roberts is No. 7 overall in the Indiana class of 2023 rankings and is No. 24 among all power forwards nationally, according to 247Sports.

Bloomington North head coach Jason Speer said he has been fortunate to coach Roberts, who acts as a Swiss Army knife for the Cougars. At 205 pounds, he is strong and physical enough to play in the post. Roberts is also skilled enough to play on the perimeter and flashes his athleticism in transition and on the boards.

“JQ is a winner,” Speer said. “In his first three years here at North, he has played a lot on the perimeter and sometimes he has been able to play under the basket. Defense and playing in transition have been a big part, too. He has a very high basketball IQ and is able to look at a scouting report and execute. He has great timing to be able to protect the rim but also close out on shooters.

“Just being able to become a more complete player is what we have focused on — what the team needs any given game. That is what makes JQ a special player.”

According to Speer, Roberts is the first Indiana Junior All-Star from Bloomington North since Musa Jallow in 2017.

“(JQ) is very deserving and it is a great accomplishment for him and our program,” Speer said.

Roberts, who scored a season-high 31 points against Martinsville in January, scored eight or more points in 26 of Bloomington North’s 28 games. His unselfish play was undoubtedly a key factor in the Cougars winning their first regional title since 2014.

“We proved some people wrong along the way,” Roberts said. “Putting Bloomington North on the map was what everyone’s goal was at the beginning of the season.”

When it comes to IU, a program right down the road, Roberts said “it would be a great opportunity to play there.” Roberts was recently able to congratulate Brian Walsh on his new position as an Indiana assistant coach and said the coaching staff has been “very” active with him.

“It is a great school,” Roberts said. “With Coach Woodson coming down (from the NBA), his vision for where IU should be is great. They did well in the NCAA tournament. I liked the passion they put on the floor at the end of the season and not wanting to lose. I really enjoyed watching it.

“Just having conversations with the coaches… (I am) getting that family sort of feeling from them.”

Roberts said Woodson has been extremely honest when they speak.

“Sometimes you need to hear what you don’t want to hear,” Roberts said. “He will tell you the good things, but he will also tell you some of the things you need to work on. He just has a passion for what he does. But I like the honesty part. He has been in those (higher) positions and has developed players and made sure they produced. You have people who will only tell you the good in your game.

“Shooting for me is the main thing. I have been working on that a long time now.”

Taking an official visit to IU over the offseason will “definitely” be on the mind of Roberts, he said.

Iowa is the only other Big Ten program to extend an offer to Roberts, which came on Oct. 29 of last year.

Although track and field might be an option as a senior, Roberts plans to focus on travel basketball this spring and summer. He is playing for Indiana Elite 2023. As a sophomore, Roberts qualified for the IHSAA state finals in the 400-meter dash (18th overall, 50.25) and the 4×400 relay. His relay team finished second overall behind Carmel.

“This is my last AAU season,” Roberts said. “I want to make sure I produce the best I can and focus on that.”

(Photo courtesy of Bloomington North.)

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