The labels given to Bingham's Kenneth Roberts are many and varied, ranging from Fred Roberts' little brother to the best power forward ever in the state, and from a quiet leader to the prep player who is certain to get the job done.
Add a couple more titles, if you please - those of two-time Deseret News 4A MVP and 1990 Mr. Basketball.Roberts led Bingham to a second straight 4A state championship, with the Miners suffering only one defeat in the two title seasons. Roberts capped off his stellar prep career with senior-season game averages of 26 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 3 assists. Plus there were some impressive shooting percentages - 78 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the line - and a career best 46-point outing in a regular-season game against eventual 4A runner-up Taylorsville.
"That's just the tip of the iceberg," said Bingham Coach George Sluga, expecting a full-fledged integration of Roberts into the fast paces of playing forward in college. "He's going to be a lot better facing the hoop."
He remains the state's top "bachelor" - still undecided as to the college of his choice. Utah and Kansas are the two front-runners, with BYU and Arizona State still in the running.
"He's got discipline and that much talent - I'd hate to think how far he can go," said Sluga.
We know how far up he can go right now - 11 feet, 2 inches, with the aid of a two-step jump. "When he builds his upper body, he's going to jump even more," Sluga added. "And when he jumps more, that's going to be scary."
Something just as scary is Sluga suggesting that Roberts could have been even more dominating had the need arisen. He rose to the occasion when called upon but didn't pad personal stats in garbage time against weaker opposition.
"He's competitive, but his mind has got things together. He treated opponents with a gentleness in his own mind . . . . It was pretty typical of him to make that last, big, game-winning field goal in the title game. If he has to get the job done, he gets it done."
Judge Memorial Coach Jim Yerkovich, who has coached Roberts in several all-star contests, has called the 6-foot-8, 205-pounder the best forward the state has ever produced. "He's the best combination of power and finesse - Ken Roberts is a player. He understands the game and has guard-type skills at 6-8."
Previous winners of the annual Mr. Basketball honor include Ben Lomond's Kurt Miller (1987), Timpview's Matt Bowman (1988), and Emery County's Shawn Bradley (1989). Miller currently plays with the University of New Mexico, Bowman played his freshman year at Utah Valley Community College and is currently serving an LDS Church mission, and Bradley will be a freshman at BYU next year.