Tom Izzo has spent a lot of time in the stands watching 2008 Lakewood St. Edward forward Delvon Roe at the NIKE Main Event in Las Vegas this week.
Michigan State's basketball coach has had plenty of company.
"Tommy Izzo, Roy Williams, Bruce Weber, Jim Calhoun, Tommy Amaker, and Thad Matta are some of the coaches I've seen watching me," said Roe between games on Tuesday. "Florida has had some assistant coaches here and there are probably more that I am forgetting."
Roe, who is in the process of playing himself into a Top 25 ranking for 2008, said it is difficult not to notice who is watching when he is on the court. But the versatile 6-foot-7 forward says that he isn't about to get a big head.
"In a tournament like this, you have to respect every player you face and every team you play," said Roe. "You can't get caught up with who is in the stands and who is on the court playing with you."
Nevertheless, Roe did impress the coaches in the stands with a 19-point performance in a dramatic come-from-behind victory over a strong Houston Hoops teams led by senior Top 25 Texas commitment Gary Johnson
"I feel like I played well against Houston and have played well down here in general," Roe said. "But none of that matters now because we are in the playoffs and we want to win the entire tournament."
Michigan State freshman Raymar Morgan led the Shooting Stars on a deep run at the NIKE Main Event one year ago. But Roe feels this year's team has better overall talent and has a better chance to win the whole thing.
"I think we can go further this year," he said. "I think we have better players this year and that the team has really come together in the last few games. Truthfully, I feel like we have a good shot at winning it all."
If the Shooting Stars win the Main Event, they will play the winner of the Adidas Super 64 in a nationally televised game at Cox Pavilion Wednesday evening.
Monday's dramatic win over Houston was a solid first step toward the Shooting Stars' ultimate goal. It was also a confidence builder for Roe, who overcame foul trouble and a difficult match-up with Johnson.
Johnson is ranked the No. 24 overall player in the Class of 2007 and the No. 6 power forward in the Class of 2007 by Rivals.com. The future Longhorn scored 27 points to lead all scorers, but Roe played solid defense against the senior standout and took a lot away from the match-up.
"He played well and got me into a little bit of foul trouble," Roe said. "But I consider it an honor to play a guy like him and play well against him. You get better by playing the best competition and I feel like I learned a lot from going up against him."
Roe said playing Johnson with foul trouble was a difficult task. But he added that it provided him an invaluable experience that will help him in his continuing maturation as a player.
On offense, Roe scored on the interior and on the wing. The face-up skills that made Roe so difficult to defend at the NIKE All-America Camp and the NBA Players Camp in late June and early July have been on full display in all three of the Shooting Stars games in pool play.
"I am using my face-up game even more down here," Roe said. "I have a lot bigger men on me out on the perimeter. It has been easy to fake and get them out of position to set up my shot."
Always one of the best defensive teams on the summer circuit, King James used pressure defense to over come a 14-point deficit against Houston with four minutes remaining. The Shooting Stars won the game with a shot at the buzzer.
"We started pressing and they started making a lot of turnovers," Roe said. "On offense, everybody on our team was making shots. I think it gave us a lot of momentum heading into today's games."
With the win, King James moved out of Pool Play with an undefeated record. Roe and his team defeated South Florida Heat and Phoenix Magic in earlier pool-play action before eking out their dramatic win over Houston.
With his ballclub now facing elimination, Roe says that he and his teammates will be putting aside all individual aspirations for the good of the team.
"Yeah, I want to play well and it is always my goal to be the best player at every tournament, but our main focus is winning," Roe said. "We want to keep playing, that is our top priority."
When his season with the Shooting Stars is over, Roe will start taking unofficial visits. Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State will get visits from the St. Edward star in August.
"Those are the three schools I am looking at the hardest right now," Roe said. "I want to visit all three in early August. Then I am looking at taking a couple of other visits later on toward the end of August."
Florida, Miami, and UConn are the three schools Roe is looking at visiting at the end of August.
Spartanmag.com will be checking in with Roe periodically as long the Shooting Stars are still alive at the NIKE Main Event. Stay tuned for daily updates on Roe and other top Michigan State prospects.