Jamestown Native Rojas Continuing Hoops Dream At Wichita State | News, Sports, Jobs

Former Red Raiders basketball star James Rojas is continuing his hoops dream after three years at the University of Alabama. Rojas announced via social media that he would be using his final year of eligibility at Wichita State University. Photo courtesy of University of Alabama

The Jamestown High School boys basketball team gathered at one end of the Buffalo State Sports Arena for an impromptu photo. It was March 2015 and the Red Raiders had just claimed another Section VI Class AA championship.

Seated in the first row near the foul line were, among others, Stephen Carlson and Zack Panebianco. The former would ultimately find his way to the National Football League, while the latter ended up sweeping virtually every individual hoops honor WNY had to offer that season.

Standing in the back row was James Rojas, then a talented, albeit raw, sophomore who showed enough potential that his minutes and contributions on the court grew by the game.

Seven years later, the 6-foot-8 forward is still chasing his hoops dreams.

In fact, after collegiate stops at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College where he was a National Junior College All-American and three years at the University of Alabama, Rojas announced on his social-media platforms Sunday that he has verbally committed to Wichita State University and Coach Isaac Brown for his final year of eligibility.

“I have absolutely loved my time in Tuscaloosa,” Rojas wrote. “Being a part of winning an SEC championship, going to the Sweet 16 and making back-to-back tournaments was an amazing experience. I want to first thank everyone who supported me the last several years through the ups and downs. From coaches and teammates, to friends and family I’m forever grateful.

I am going to go back to Kansas and play at Wichita State for my last year of eligibility so my son, his mother and I can be around our extended family, and have our support system around us. I am super excited about the future at Wichita State, and thankful for Coach Brown believing in me. I can’t wait to get to work! Roll Tide Forever. Go Shockers!!”

In his three years at Alabama, the former two-time Post-Journal high school Player of the Year was limited by two major knee injuries. He tore the ACL in his right knee before the 2019-20 season, which led to a medical redshirt, and then tore the ACL in his left knee last summer, which delayed his 2021-22 season debut until January. This season he averaged 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 13.5 minutes in 17 games.

Following Senior Night at the end of February, Alabama head coach Nate Oats complimented Rojas and two others for their contributions.

“Looking at the three guys we honored after the game — (Jahvon) Quinerly, (Keon) Ellis and Rojas — and what they’ve accomplished in the two years they have played here,” Oats said in a video posted to the school’s athletics website. “That’s arguably the best two-year span we’ve had here in close to 30 years. They’ve taken this program to new heights from where it was when they got here. I couldn’t be happy for them and just thankful for their help getting it here. Rojas has battled some injuries, but he just brings a toughness to the team that they miss when he’s not there.”

Rojas was originally recruited to the University at Buffalo by Jamestown native Bryan Hodgson, but when Hodgson followed Oats to Alabama, Rojas changed his mind and headed to Tuscaloosa too. Now he will join a Wichita State program that finished the 2021-22 season 15-13, losing to Tulsa in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

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