‘It’s a great fit for him’ — Centerville’s Rolf finds new basketball home at Charlotte

Centerville's Rich Rolf eyes the basket during Sunday's Division I state championship game at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

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Centerville's Rich Rolf eyes the basket during Sunday's Division I state championship game at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Centerville all-state senior Rich Rolf says his next basketball family – the Charlotte 49ers – reminds him of home.

Rolf recently ended a long recruitment period after making an official visit three weeks ago to the Division I North Carolina school.

“They have a lot of similarities to our culture,” Rolf said. “So I feel like I’m coming into a great program – something that’s similar to Centerville and what I’ve been used to.

“When I was on my visit, I met every single player. Usually teams only show you five players or so, so I got to meet everyone. I really enjoyed that.”

Rolf is joining a program on the rise under fifth-year head coach Ron Sanchez. The 49ers were 17-14 this past season and 10-8 in Conference USA. The victory total was the most for the program since 2013-14 and the second time Sanchez has won 10 conference games. Sanchez served as an assistant to Tony Bennett for 12 seasons at Washington State and Virginia.

Rolf committed to Drexel last summer after an unofficial visit. He said a family decision led to a change of heart, and he eventually found Charlotte.

“I was taking it more slowly,” he said. “There’s definitely pressure and stress with the recruiting process, but I’m glad I found the spot that wanted me.”

Elks coach Brook Cupps supported Rolf taking his time to find Charlotte.

“It’s a great fit for him,” Cupps said. “One of the most important things when you’re getting recruited is you go some place where you’re wanted and loved, not just tolerated. And I think Rich found that in Charlotte.”

Rolf credits being around like-minded people like his coach and fellow all-state teammates Tom House and Gabe Cupps for getting him prepared.

“Coach Cupps has been a great role model in my life,” Rolf said. “His mindset of just keep working has trickled down to me. Plus being surrounded by Gabe and Tom and working out every day. I think that’s what’s got me to this point.”

Rolf, who is 6-foot-7, was known mostly as rebounder as a sophomore. But he worked on his shooting to become a 3-point threat and improved from 32.6% to 37.6% as a junior to 48.1% as a senior.

“They like that I can stretch the floor,” Rolf said. “One thing they brought up was I’m a mismatch. I can outrebound smaller players, and they said I could bully smaller guys in the post. So they see me being a versatile player doing many jobs. Their style of play is what I’m accustomed to. I’m more of a guy that needs a system, and I think Charlotte has a system I can benefit from.”

Rolf started for three years for the Elks and was named first-team all-state this season along with House and Cupps. Rolf helped lead the Elks to a state championship as a junior and to a state runner-up finish as a senior when he led the Elks in scoring at 17.3 points a game and averaged seven rebounds.

“They’re getting a very versatile, skilled basketball player,” Brook Cupps said. “They’re getting a player that values the team and winning over himself. They’re getting a kid that is going to dedicate himself to becoming as good of a player as he can be. And he’s going to elevate that aspect of any program that he goes into, because of how he approaches his preparation, his work. As good of a player as he is, he’s even more of a high-level person to be around and to have as a teammate.”

Rolf and House, who is signed with Florida State, and Cupps, who has committed to Indiana, were in the gym Monday morning working out and shooting together. It’s an almost-daily routine they call “The Breakfast Club.”

“He’s Rich, he’s working, he’s continuing to get better,” Brook Cupps said. “That’s what he does.”

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