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Nova's Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree moving to off-court role

09/29/2021, 5:30pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree’s playing career might be over, but his time with Villanova is not.

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (above, as a freshman in 2017-18) won't play another game at Villanova due to leg injuries. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward-center out of Neumann-Goretti high school hasn’t been on the court since the end of the 2019-20 season, injuries to both of his legs keeping him on the sidelines. Now, he’s hanging up his blue and white jersey for good, the school announcing Wednesday afternoon that he’ll transition from an on-court role with the team to one on the sidelines, while maintaining his scholarship.

“I’ve come to terms with it,” he said over the phone Wednesday afternoon. “It’s been a conversation that I’ve been having with myself for about a year and some change now.”

According to Villanova, Cosby-Roundtree had surgery on his right shin after the 2019-20 season, and also had surgery on his left tibia in December 2020. He sat out the entire 2020-21 season because of those injuries, and though the Wildcats were hoping for an eventual return, it was becoming clear from comments over time that the situation wasn’t getting any better.

Instead, he’ll serve in an “off-court role to be determined” with the team while remaining on scholarship as he works on not one but two Master’s degrees.

“Dhamir has been an outstanding player and part of the Villanova family,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in a release. “He made important contributions to our 2018 national championship team and our Big East championship teams in 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, the leg injuries have been too much to overcome these past two years.”

Cosby-Roundtree played in 105 games in a Villanova uniform, including all 40 as a freshman in 2017-18 as Villanova won its second national title under Wright and third in school history. He started 16 of 36 games as a sophomore, averaging 5.1 ppg and 5.8 rpg, but saw his role diminish in 2019-20 (1.5 ppg/1.4 rpg) as eventual All-American Jeremiah Robinson-Earl arrived on campus.

The Wildcats honored Cosby-Roundtree (above) during last year's Senior Day. (Photo courtesy Villanova athletics)

“I think the most difficult part would be just that you’re giving up doing something that you love to do, something that you do every day, something that all of your friends do, that everybody you’re around does,” he said. “Just giving up something that you see everyday, that’s probably the most difficult part, that and just not being able to do what you love, at the level that you want to do it at, that’s the most difficult thing to come to terms with.”

Cosby-Roundtree said he’s not in any pain on a day-to-day basis, and he’s keeping himself in shape and working out regularly. He didn’t want to rule out a potential return to the court at some point down the road, but that’s not what he’s thinking about in the near future.

“I don’t want to tell you no, that I won’t ever play again, I won’t say that to you,” he said, “but as of right now I’m focused on what my next steps are as a person, as Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree.”

While Cosby-Roundtree’s role for this season has yet to be named, he has a good idea of where he’ll be useful around the program as the Wildcats prepare for yet another deep March run.

“It’s more of just me being the captain that I was for 2-3 years, just being the oldest guy in the locker room and just offering my advice to all the young guys that are coming in and critiquing and giving my insight to the older guys,” he said. “Seeing what it looks like from the courtside, it’s completely different from when you’re playing. I can offer that to them and be a voice, talking to them and being myself.”

At Neumann-Goretti, Cosby-Roundtree was a centerpiece for Carl Arrigale’s squad from the time he was a sophomore in 2014-15 through his senior year, finishing with 1,254 points — eighth in the powerhouse program’s all-time scoring list, according to hoops historian Ted Silary, just above Rick Jackson (Syracuse) and Lamarr Kimble (St. Joe’s/Louisville). 

Though he was never the most skilled or physically gifted forward when compared to other high-major big men, Cosby-Roundtree made the most of his tools and abilities, serving as a hard-working rim-runner and high-quality finisher around the rim as well as an imposing shot-blocker at the high school level. With him in the middle, N-G made it to three straight PCL championship games, though they couldn’t get over the hump at the Palestra, while also winning three state titles.

Cosby-Roundtree (above) goes up for a bucket against Lincoln Park in the 2017 PIAA Class 3A championship game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“He was terrific for us,” Arrigale said by phone Wednesday afternoon. “The first time I saw him, I thought we might be able to get him a PSAC scholarship, he could be a nice, serviceable high school big. And then in one year, that all changed, in one year, it was like ‘no way,’ he was going to be a Division I player. He just kept improving and improving.”

Even without Cosby-Roundtree on the active roster, the Wildcats have several options in the frontcourt to replace Robinson-Earl, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder after averaging 15.7 ppg and 8.5 rpg a year ago. 

Abington product Eric Dixon, a 6-8 forward now in his third year with the program, played in 21 games as a reserve a year ago (8.2 mpg), and is the most experienced true forward on the roster; freshman Nnanna Njoku (Sanford School, Del.) is 6-9, 260 while Trey Patterson, who arrived midway through last season, is 6-9 and 220 but more of a combo wing forward than a true post.

Cosby-Roundtree said he’s already working on a Master’s in Education, taking three courses this fall, and is also applying to begin a Master’s in Counseling at some point this winter. If all goes according to plan, he said, he’ll be done those two degrees within two years, and will figure out what he wants to do from there.

“I feel my passion is driven towards helping younger people who grew up like me, grew up in difficult situations,” he said. “I could see myself as a coach, but I don’t think I have a driven passion towards coaching.”

Villanova opens its season on Nov. 9 at 4:30pm against Mt. St. Mary’s.

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