Coming from one of the most successful high school programs in the country, St. Anthonys (NJ), Mike Rosario brought a much needed winning attitude to a struggling Rutgers program. The 32 wins Rosario tallied as a senior at St. Anthonys match the number of victories the Scarlet Knights have posted in the past three seasons. Though Rosario was only able to help his team to 2 wins in the Big East and 11 overall, he emerged as one of the top freshman scorers in our database at 16.2 points-per contest. Though he will need a ton of help to right the ship in Piscataway, Rosarios freshman season was eye-catching, albeit misleading.
Despite all the success he found as a freshman, Rosario faces an uphill battle from an NBA draft perspective. At just 62, he is severely undersized for a NBA shooting guard and didnt get much of a chance to showcase his playmaking ability last season since his team needed him to score. Not blessed with great leaping ability and possessing a skinny frame, Rosarios quickness is his best physical asset by a wide margin, but isnt impressive enough to compensate for his shortcomings. As he matures as a player, his physical profile will remain one of the limiting factors on his NBA upside, especially on the defensive end where he struggles to get through well set screens and contest shots when closing out.
Perhaps just as worrisome from a NBA perspective as his physical tools, Rosarios efficiency last season left a lot to be desired. He shot only 39.1% from the field, ranked amongst the top-15 players in out database in terms of field goal attempt per-40 pace adjusted, and found himself in the top-10 in similarly adjusted three-point attempts, each of which put his 16.2 points per-game in a different light. Those numbers can be partially attributed to just how much free reign Rosario was given at Rutgers but better reflect just how badly they needed him to produce. Displaying an extremely quick shooting stroke that lacks a degree of elevation and follow through, Rosario took a lot of extremely deep threes last season, as Big East opponents often came out in zones against the Scarlet Knights.
Though he was often forced to settle for deep jumpers late in the shot clock when his team needed him to create something, Rosario displayed a great deal of versatility in his scoring repertoire. Capable of hitting shots running off of screens, creating off the bounce, and giving preference to his floater when looking to score inside of 15-feet, Rosario has a certain swagger to his offensive game. Constantly in motion, his consistently high-effort level earned him a number of easy looks around the rim last season, which he converted at a respectable rate. Unfortunately, for every good play he made to get an easy look, he often forced an equally questionable shot on his way to the rim.
The inconsistency in his decision-making, coupled with his 30.2% shooting from three, made the fact that he was essentially his teams only major option that much more problematic. Lacking another go-to scorer, Rosario was asked to carry the load every night, and while he posted efficient numbers on some nights, he was dismal on other. A hardnosed player from a tough background who was thrown into the fire at the highest level of college basketball, Rosarios willingness to carry his team made him a wildly inefficient player in his first NCAA season.
While it would be easy write off such production from a senior, Rosarios leadership, gym-rat nature, and desire to win cant be discarded so easily. Though Rutgers didnt offer Rosario a chance to tally many wins, he asserted himself in a comparable role at the FIBA U19 World Championships playing for Puerto Rico in July. Leading the competition in scoring at 24 points per-game, Rosario almost single-handed kept his team in games. In one notable contest against France, Rosario tallied 54 points, going 9-10 from three to lead his team to a slim 90 to 89 victory. Finishing the competition in 6th place at 5-4, Rosario showed what he can do when he gets hot.
A competent defender who shows a good stance and plays hard, Rosario is prone to taking risks on the defensive end just as he is on the offensive end. In the coming seasons, Rosario will need to show that he can post efficient numbers and fill a role if wants NBA attention. Hell face some immense challenges in doing so, as hell be penciled in as his teams go-to-guy for the foreseeable future. After displaying solid roleplayer potential during his time at St. Anthonys, Rosarios terrific work ethic will be tested as he needs to improve his consistency immensely to garner NBA attention as an undersized shooting guard with a questionable shot selection.