A Rose by Any Other Name
June 7, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
2009-10 USA Basketball Developmental National Team member L.J. Rose grew up surrounded by great athletes. His father, Lynden Rose, was a member of the University of Houston's 1982 NCAA Final Four team and was the No. 6 draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers later that year. Lynden Rose played alongside a pair of future U.S. Olympic gold medalists Clyde Drexler (1992) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1996) in the '82 Final Four as they fell to another pair of future Olympian gold medal winners in Michael Jordan (1984, 1992) and Sam Perkins (1984).
More than 25 years later, one of those sons is starting to make a name for himself, L.J. Rose. He has just one year of high school ball under his belt, but he's already being recognized across the state of Texas and nationally for his growing skill set. As a freshman at Houston's Second Baptist School last season, Rose helped his squad post a 30-7 overall record, including a 13-0 home slate, and was named to the 2009 All-Texas Class 4A first team. That was followed by an invitation to the inaugural USA Developmental National Team.
Born on Dec. 11, 1993, Rose grew up without really knowing about the hype that surrounded the '92 Dream Team. He wasn't even three when Olajuwon suited up for the USA at the Atlanta Olympic Games. He's seen video of those games, video of his father showing off his skills. But Rose is firmly planted in the present. And the present for him means an opportunity to represent his country in Argentina if he's selected as one of the 12 who will represent the U.S. at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship next week.
USA Basketball.com sat down with L.J. to find out how everything's going at the team's training camp, how he likes his teammates and other tidbits of information.
How is the training camp been for you?
It's going good. It forces us to work hard. The past few days have been pretty tough, but it's worth it.
Are you feeling the altitude (6,200')?
Yes. The first day you run up and down the court once or twice and you'd be done. You'd be hanging on your shorts. I'm feeling a little bit better now.
Is this different than other camps you've attended?
Yes. It's really nice here. It's a different atmosphere because everyone here is an elite athlete. They all want to get to the next level, which makes it a great environment.
There are several other camps here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center this weekend. Have you had a chance to talk with any of the other athletes here?
We talked with some of the Taekwondo kids. They were pretty young. There are some 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds. It's amazing that they start so early. We asked them how hard they trained and how long. They said like six or seven hours a day. They wake up at like six, so it's a lot different from us.
What are your USA teammates like?
I have great teammates out here. I've known some of them, and I'm getting to know more of them now.
What about the coaching staff?
Oh, they're great. They know what they're talking about. I like how they help us to get better.
Excluding yourself, who do you think is the best player out here?
Quinn Cook. He brings intensity on the defensive end and on the offensive end he can shoot. He gets his teammates involved.
Describe what you bring to the team:
I'm more of a distributer. I score when I need to, just help the team win. I'm a leader.
After each session coach Don Showalter brings everyone together into the -circle of communication." Can you describe what that is about?
He always has us get in a circle, put our shoes together so we're close. Then he has us tell the person next to us what they did good today or what they need to work on or what you like about him. It brings the team together. It's a good thing.
Your parents were both born in the Bahamas, how did they end up in Houston?
Yes, both my parents were born there, and all my family is there. My dad's brother played basketball in Miami. So my dad came to Miami and played basketball. Then he went to the U of H, the University of Houston, and played there. My mom â€¦ Prairie View A&M had an international connection with the Bahamas and sent their students there. So they both ended up in Houston, and that's how they met.
You have a connection to some former USA players through your father, right?
Yes, he played with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Michael Young, Larry Micheaux. I've met all of them, and I played with Michael Young's kids in basketball.
Is that how you ended up with all the Michael Jordan autographed items?
Yeah. I got them personally autographed because my dad played against Michael Jordan in the Final Four and they kind of kept in touch. We go to the Bahamas every year during the Christmas break. He and his sons were there, and we got to hang out with them.
Have you ever seen any film of your dad playing and what do you think about your game versus your dad's game?
I would say that he was probably tougher than I was. He was faster. But back then it was much more aggressive than it is now.
You mentioned that you can't see well. How can you play?
I can see good enough to play basketball. But in the classroom and stuff, I always sit in the front of the class so I can see. I used to wear contacts, but they gave me headaches. So I stopped.
On his experience playing in France:
I went with a team to Ardes, France. It was weird, but at the same time it was really cool because we got to stay at a host family's house for the six or seven days we were there. The gym we played in was kind of dark. There were birds in the gym. It was kind of weird, but it was packed. There were a lot of fans there cheering for us, so that was really cool.
What would it mean for you to be able to represent the U.S. in Argentina?
It would mean a lot to me because I've been working so hard. It's kind of like a reward. But once we go down there, we have to prove that we belong there.