Longhorns still balling, just not hooping anymore

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Tall. Athletic. Agile. Versatile. Good passer. Great teammate. High IQ. Good court vision.
Left unlabeled, a recruiting profile with those characteristics could fall on the desk of either volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott or women’s basketball head coach Gail Goestenkors.

Consequently, several Longhorns have illustrious memories on both courts from back in their high school days.

Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams was a dual-sport athlete at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her senior year, Adams not only led her team to a volleyball state
championship but notched a basketball one as well. “There’s a couple of [former basketball players] on the team,” Adams said. “They’re all tall. They should’ve all played basketball.”

Others on the team include freshman setter Hannah Allison, junior outside hitter Amber Roberson and sophomore outside hitter Bailey Webster. And while hard work and dedication have helped guide their success at this level, being blessed with natural height and athleticism takes a little luck in the genetic lottery, as many members of the team come from a ackground of basketball prowess in the family.

Webster was a four-year letterman on the St. Paul School for Girls’ basketball team in Baltimore, Md. and garnered all-county honors her junior year. Her father, Elton, played two years ofbasketball at Tulane while her mother, Cedrina, played four years at Xavier.

Adams’ father Rich starred at Illinois before being drafted in the fourth round of the 1978 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs — which, coincidentally, was co-owned by current UT business school namesake Red McCombs at the time.

For Roberson, basketball is a full-blown family affair. Both of her parents attended New Mexico State, with her father, John, playing basketball and her mother, Lisa, a volleyball player. John’s sport seems to be winning the battle as most of Roberson’s six brothers and sisters chose basketball. Her older sister, Ashlee, played at Texas Tech and garnered Big 12 honors her senior year. Her brother, Andre, played his first game for Colorado last week, posting six points and 11 rebounds. And her sister, Arielle, is one of the most sought-after high school seniors in the nation, weighing offers from powerhouses including Texas.

Though ultimately choosing volleyball, Roberson was far from a shabby basketball player herself, leading Wagner High School in San Antonio to a state semifinal her senior year in lieu of garnering all-state honors. She said her childhood had its fair share of games of 21 and inter-family tournaments.

“We competed a lot,” Roberson said. “It was fun but sometimes there were tears. Usually, [my family is] talking about basketball 24/7, maybe volleyball one percent of the time. They’re still all supportive of me playing volleyball though, especially my mom.”

Allison was actually discouraged to continue playing basketball by her mom, Kelly, who starred at Baylor.

“My mom thought it’d be better I not play a contact sport for the rest of my life because I’m pretty competitive,” Allison said. “I try to keep them separate, but I love both of them. They’re just different.”

The easy-going Roberson said volleyball had always just been more fun.

“Honestly, a couple of us [on the team] have talked about basketball but nothing really drastic,” Roberson said. “Volleyball seemed my sport because it fits my personality.”

While Roberson chose the sport because it fit, Adams had her own reasons.

“I got to a point where the girls started getting bigger and sweatier, and I was like, I’m done,” Adams said.

Elliott said despite common skill sets, fewer athletes these days do both sports because of scheduling. Elliott tries to seek out athletes that will compete physically at the college level.

“The way it’s going now with sports is that you have to pick and choose at an early age because of AAU and club volleyball, and it’s hard to do both,” Elliott said. “We’re fortunate that a lot of these girls have picked volleyball but a lot of them stay with basketball too. It just shows that they’re multidimensional athletes.”