All the way up - 7ft 2 in Jamaican basketballer earns high praise for play in NCAA Division One
When Romaro Gill first picked up basketball, he had no idea that the passion instilled in him would take him towards success at the collegiate level or being compared to an NBA legend.
The 25-year-old centre has played a key role for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One outfit Seton Hall University in his senior year. The Seton Hall Pirates lead the Big East Conference heading into their final regular season games and are projected to qualify for the NCAA men’s tournament as a high seed.
Gill, who hails from St Thomas, has emerged as one of the top defenders in the conference, leading the way with 90 blocks, averaging 3.5 blocks per game this season. He has earned praise for his play, mostly significantly from basketball Hall of Famer and Georgetown University head coach Patrick Ewing. Jamaican-born Ewing compared his play to another Hall of Famer, Dikembe Mutombo. When he heard the comparison, he was humbled at the recognition.
“When I heard the comment and I saw it on the Internet I felt honoured. Especially from someone like Patrick Ewing and to be compared to Dikembe I mean, that’s an all-time great player,” he told The Gleaner. “So for a person like me so early in my career to be compared to someone of that calibre, it’s a great thing and a great honour and that kind of motivates me to go harder and try to accomplish what I want.”
He was introduced to the game as a fifth form student at St Thomas Technical High. He participated at a basketball camp at Camperdown High in 2013 where he caught the attention of scout Michael Minto who helped get him the opportunity to go to college in the United States. Gill’s rise since then has even surprised the player himself. “I just had a passion for it. I never really thought that I would make it this far. I never thought that I would even get a scholarship to come over here,” he said. “But these guys saw potential in me and they gave me the opportunity and I came over there and made the best of it.”
The seven feet two inches Gill left in 2015 for Vincennes University in Indiana and spent two years there before joining Seton Hall in 2017. Since then he has improved his game not only on defence but contributing on offence this season. He attributes this to a renewed belief in his abilities.
“I just think that I have developed more confidence in myself to go out there and do it. At the beginning of the Big East Conference and after scoring 17 points in a game against Georgetown, it just boosted my confidence level so after that I wasn’t scared to go out there and dominate,” he said.
Although he is focused on ensuring a successful end to his college career with Seton Hall, Gill has aspirations of making it to the NBA. Gill says that for players locally who want to take their game to the next level they must have the right mindset to learn and grow. “If you come over here with a growth mindset and you are willing to learn and willing to take in what the coaches tell you will go a long way,” he said.