Ryan Rosburg knows many things the average person does not. The standout center for the Marquette boys’ basketball team knows what it’s like to throw down monster slam dunks. Just last week, he won the slam dunk contest at the Webster Classic Tournament over at Webster Groves High School.
He knows what it’s like to be chased by some of the best basketball programs in the nation. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Rosburg had more than 30 scholarship offers and turned down the likes of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Missouri State so he could suit up for the cats of old Mizzou.
He also knows what it’s like to bang his head on a door frame. He knows how hard it is to find pants and shoes, size 16, that fit. He knows the only way he’ll fit in a compact car is if you cut the top off that tuna can. He knows it takes about two shopping carts worth of food to feed him and his older brother, Andy, who’s a whopping 6-8, 220 pounds and walked on at Mizzou this fall. “Our family definitely goes through a lot of food,” Ryan, 18, says. “My brother and I eat a lot.”
When you’re as large as Rosburg, clothes shopping is best done online. Finding a new pair of jeans that fit off the rack is like winning the lottery. Even then, there are only a couple of stores that even carry a pair of pants that wouldn’t be high waters on Rosburg. “When my mom and I go to buy jeans, there will only be one or two pairs that fit me,” he says. “There’s not much of a selection.”
There isn’t much selection in the way of automobiles, either. Rosburg says if it’s not an SUV or a truck, then it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride. Just squeezing behind the steering wheel can be a challenge in and of itself. “The smaller cars don’t really do it,” Rosburg says.
For all the day-to-day things that challenge Rosburg in ways most of us will never know, there are some incredible benefits to being large and in charge. Chief among them is dominating on the basketball court. And Rosburg has done just that this season. Through Marquette’s first five games, Rosburg is averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds and almost 3 blocks per game, and that’s all despite the fact every team the Mustangs face come up with their best plan to try and stop him. “He’s a load to deal with,” Marquette coach Shane Matzen says.
In an age where every basketball player, regardless of size, wants to dribble and shoot 3-pointers, the old-school, pure-post player is a dying breed. Rosburg is a link to that past. He’s not a center who wants to play as a guard. Rosburg likes to bump and thump under the basket. He’s not flashy—he’s pure power. “I like to play in the post,” Rosburg says. “I like to get dirty and play physical. I take a lot of pride in trying to control the paint.”
The Mustangs have high hopes this season. With Rosburg in the middle and a group of guys around him whom he has played basketball with since they were tykes, Marquette is dreaming big. Rosburg says the best part of playing with his teammates as long as he has is the chemistry. This is a group that has a sixth sense about it. That’s what happens when you play together long enough. “We all know our roles and what we do well,” Rosburg says. “Everyone knows what they need to do.”