|OU-C men's basketball coach Rick Uhrig (left) and shooting star Clay Roll|
Roll, a 6-foot-3 guard/forward, is following the footsteps of his father, Kevin Roll, and his brother, Nick Milliken, who both previously played for OU-C. The elder Roll was a member of four consecutive state championship teams in the 1980s during his OU-C playing career and is now the junior varsity coach at Unioto High School. Clay Roll’s grandfather, Ken Roll, was a high-school referee for more than 40 years and is enshrined in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials Hall of Fame.
“Playing basketball, especially at OU-C, sort of runs in the family,” Clay Roll said.
Apparently, that bloodline includes a knack for finding the basket. Clay Roll recently scored the 1,000th point of his career during the Hilltoppers’ game vs. Ohio Christian University on Jan. 6.
Upon graduating from Adena High School, where he also scored 1,000 points during his career, Roll had opportunities to play basketball at several NCAA Division III schools, but he chose OU-C. “I wanted to stay close to home and found I could have the same type of experience in terms of having teammates, coaches and the competition,” he said.
For the season, Roll leads the Ohio Regional Campus Conference in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game. He has scored 20 or more points in 11 games this season, including a top effort of 34 points vs. OU-Eastern.
When asked about Roll’s strength, OU-C coach Rich Uhrig shakes the player’s family tree.
“It’s heredity. The whole family is sports-oriented, and Clay was brought up playing sports,” Uhrig said. “Clay works on his game and he has made himself into a nice scorer, but he owes much of his success to his family lineage.”
Roll, a Law Enforcement Technology major, has his priorities in order.
“Clay puts a lot of time and effort into basketball, but he understands the academic side of things. In fact, he’s on track to graduate this spring. As I emphasize with all of our players, they are here, first and foremost, to get a college degree,” Uhrig said.
Roll has a well-rounded game, especially on the offensive end.
“I can score on the drive or with the jump shot. If the jumper and 3-points shot aren’t falling, I am able to put the ball on the floor and take it to the hole,” he said.
Through the OU-C basketball experience, Roll and his teammates learn lessons that are valuable to them in their academic and professional careers.
“They learn about the highs and lows of life as well as the importance of chemistry, teamwork and dealing with people,” Uhrig said. “These are lessons that will last them throughout their lives.”