November 15, 2009

Dual-Sport Star Makes His Decision

Kevin McCarthy

Robby Rowland cannot sit still. He is always working out, playing, or on his way to do one or both. Now all that activity has paid off in a big way. It’s true that basketball and baseball have garnered most of his time and attention during high school but that world will conclude after his current year at Cloverdale High (near Santa Rosa). He’s moving up into the world of college athletics and will be focusing on one sport after accepting a scholarship from a PAC-10 school.

photo of Robbie Rowland Rowland chooses baseball

Besides his winter hoops accolades -- Rowland averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds a game at Cloverdale as a junior basketballer, earning Player of The Year honors, he has also enjoyed a number of spring and summer &squo;seasons’ on the basketball court playing for the Bay Area Hoosiers. As Hoosier Director of Basketball Operations Philippe Doherty earlier said, "He’s [Robbie] the prototypical 2 guard and yet is very unselfish. I see him definitely filling a need for a college team. We’re working on his ability to create because putting the ball on the floor will only make him more diverse. You want him taking shots for your team."

But it’s college baseball that will be Rowland’s center of attention in 2010-2011 as he has secured a diamond scholarship to play -- make that pitch -- for the University of Oregon.

It came down to the Ducks, Arizona State, Long Beach State and Kansas for the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Rowland. "They are four great schools and I could see myself being happy at each one. There’s no way I could make a wrong choice," he explained.

Oregon won out, as two factors played a role. The Ducks baseball program was reinstated in summer 2007 after a 28-year hiatus with former Fullerton State mentor George Horton hired as head coach. Horton has both played and coached in the College World Series, twice being named College Coach of the Year.

Plus, highly regarded Andrew Checketts, a native Oregonian, was brought in as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. He enjoyed great success at UC Riverside with having seven of his Highlander protégés turning pro in 2007, including three selected in the first 10 rounds of the major league baseball draft.

Additionally, Rowland’s family will be able to see him play when Oregon travels down to play Stanford and California.

"During my visit [to Eugene], everyone around town was wearing Oregon gear and you heard a lot of people saying ‘Go Ducks’ -- it’s a real college town," explained Rowland. It didn’t hurt that Oregon’s football team took apart USC 47-20 during his weekend there. Nor did having a brand new baseball facility -- PK Park (named after you-know-who) -- opening in February 2010.

For background, the Oregon 2009 recruiting class was ranked 24th in the nation by Baseball America (BA), the 2008 one 10th by BA.

Ultimately, Rowland became a Duck because "I will get better there."

But not only hoops is being set aside as Rowland sees himself concentrating on pitching at Oregon. "My focus will be on baseball and getting better at it. I like to hit but my future is in pitching."

As for his upcoming basketball and baseball seasons at Cloverdale, Rowland sees continued success. This even though the Eagle football team is playing well and will be in the playoffs which probably will delay the availability of some dual sporters for early-in-the-schedule basketball games. Cloverdale went 28-3 last season and returns four starters but has moved up to Division 4 status. Rowland, with 1,753 points scored, also is in the running to break Craig McMillan’s Cloverdale High scoring record. McMillan went on to play at Arizona and is now the head mens basketball coach at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Regarding Cloverdale baseball, Rowland offered, "We’ll be scrappy and pull off some wins."

We have one definite prediction: Rowland is going to make quite the ringer in Oregon intramural basketball.