Point guard Roberts: Hornets are 'on the rise'

Through the trails of being an undrafted rookie, Brian Roberts hard work paid off on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-1 guard was officially introduced as a member of the Charlotte Hornets.

“I’m excited to be here,” Roberts said. “I think this is a really good next step for me in my career. This is an organization that is obviously on the rise. I’m just excited to be a part of it and help it to reach even higher heights than it has.I really feel welcome here so far. I look forward to getting started.”

Robert’s deal is worth two years and a reported $5.5 million.

A University of Dayton alum, Roberts remembers playing against UNC-Charlotte in the Atlantic 10 Conference during his college days.

“The A-10 was a good conference, and it was a good time when I came down,” Roberts said. “I think we lost a couple of games, but it was always good games. I remember how beautiful the city was coming down here.”

Entering the 2008 NBA Draft, Roberts failed to be selected and eventually wound up playing overseas in Israel from 2008-09 and Germany in 2009-12 before ending back up in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets in 2012.

“Coming out of Dayton, I felt I wasn’t mentally ready maybe per say for it,” Roberts said of playing in the NBA. “I think I needed those years overseas to kind of not only hone physically, but mentally, as well. I think those years really helped me. I knew going over there I wanted to give it one more shot to try to see if I could carve a niche and find a way to stay in the league. It just all worked out. I continue to work and try to push myself.”

Roberts stayed with the New Orleans franchise for two seasons (2012-14), including its transition into the Pelicans last season, before donning the ‘purple and teal’ once again in Charlotte with his recent signing.

“I tried so hard to not say Hornets when I was in New Orleans to get ready for the Pelicans,” Roberts said. “Now, I have to go back to the Hornets. It’s kind of a reversal now. I know there is a lot of buzz around the name coming back. It resonates with the community here. I’m excited. It’s a new time for the fans and everybody. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

In free agency, Roberts debated between signing with a number of teams, including Charlotte, the Detroit Pistons and the Memphis Grizzlies, before ultimately making his move to the Queen City.

“I felt like this was a great situation, not only for me, but for my family,” Roberts said. “Just being a part of an organization that had a lot of success last year and made it to the playoffs. I wanted to be a part of it.”

Cho signed Roberts for a number of reasons, including his ability to make free throws and key 3-pointers.

“We think with his ability to shoot and space the floor, it’s really going to help our offense and bolster our bench,” Cho said. “We’re really happy to have him. I think he’s going to be a really strong locker room presence and a great teammate ... We looked at a lot of different options during free agency. We wanted to bring Brian in for a visit. There are some mutual people that Brian knows that I know that spoke glowingly of him. We thought it was a great fit.”

Roberts said he’s placed a lot of emphasis on his shooting at the ‘charity stripe.’ He led the league last season by making 94 percent of his free chances.

“It comes down to clearing your mind and muscle memory,” Roberts said. “That’s two aspects I look at that when I shoot free throws. I just try to clear my mind and just the same routine I’ve done in practice thousands of times. That’s the key in my free throw shooting.”

Roberts played for current Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford as a member of the Orlando Magic Summer League during his rookie season in 2008, learning a lot from him.

“I think he’s obviously a defensive-minded coach,” Roberts said of Clifford. “That is something that is important to develop if you want to win at this level. I feel like he lets guys player their game. I feel like it’s kind of structured, but you also get to explore your own game and play the way to your strengths. I feel like I can flourish under that type of system. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

After a plethora of moves that included signing Roberts, Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams, as well as drafting Noah Vonleh and trading for P.J. Hairston, Cho feels comfortable with sending the roster he currently has to training camp at UNC-Asheville in October.

However, he will continue to monitor any potential moves.

“We are always looking to improve the team,” Cho said. “If we see something that makes sense to improve the roster, we’ll do it.”