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Gators forward Jonah Roth reflects on college career with satisfaction, resilience

The graduating senior and starting forward for the men’s basketball team ends his final season in the CCAA tournament
San+Francisco+State+University+senior+forward+Jonah+Roth+%2815%29+attempts+a+3-pointer++against+California+State+University%2C+East+Bay+sophomore+forward+Grady+Lewis+%2821%29+during+the+Gators%E2%80%99+loss+to+the+CSU+East+Bay+Pioneers+on+Feb.+29%2C+2023+at+Pioneer+Gymnasium+in+Hayward%2C+California.+%28Sean+Young+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29
Sean Young
San Francisco State University senior forward Jonah Roth (15) attempts a 3-pointer against California State University, East Bay sophomore forward Grady Lewis (21) during the Gators’ loss to the CSU East Bay Pioneers on Feb. 29, 2023 at Pioneer Gymnasium in Hayward, California. (Sean Young / Golden Gate Xpress)

The San Francisco State University men’s basketball team concluded their season with a loss in the CCAA Division II tournament on Thursday night — also marking the end of the distinguished collegiate career of senior Jonah Roth.

Roth, starting forward on the men’s basketball team, ended his final season with yet another CCAA appearance for SFSU averaging 9.7 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game in his two years as a Gator.

In the final game on Thursday against California State, Los Angeles, Roth contributed 11 points in 29 minutes with nine rebounds, an assist, steal and block before his club was eliminated in an 84-62 contest.

During the regular season, he was a part of a team that demonstrated a flow of teamwork to overcome an uncertain season. Roth was able to help kickstart a winning streak just before the season’s end to secure a playoff spot, but they found themselves unsatisfied with the outcome.

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Head coach Vince Inglima has specifically highlighted Roth as a great example of a leader for the team this season. Demonstrating determination and courage to get them to the playoffs, Roth felt like the team was looking to him for help throughout the season.

Inglima tried to recruit Roth as soon as he graduated from Rio Americano High School, hoping he could get him on his team. The two stayed connected for about 5-6 years until Roth finally transferred to SFSU from Yuba College.

“I’m just so, so grateful that it ended up being SF,” Roth said. “It was my home for the last two years because I really don’t have anything negative to say, whether it’s the program, the coaches, my teammates. And everyone else really made my time here.”

As a senior ready to graduate, Roth felt satisfied with how he maximized his season, while Inglima was equally thrilled to have had him on the team for two seasons. Inglima put him in as a starter as he knew that he would be productive. He started in all but two games this season for the Gators.

“We really emphasize getting the right people,” Inglima said. “We value quality people and quality basketball players. Nobody exemplifies that more than Jonah, who is a great player, great student. Those are all the core values of our program.”

Jailen Daniel-Dalton, Roth’s teammate, appreciated the effort that Roth added to the team. He could always turn to him when the team might not have had the right mindset. The team counted on him to make the right moves and get them to the right spot.

“He was always a guy we could depend on,” Daniel-Dalton said. “Even when he wasn’t shooting the ball much, he always made an impact. Everyone has their ups and downs as an individual, but we know who he was day in and day out.”

Daniel-Dalton considers Roth a big piece of the puzzle. Daniel-Dalton recognized his efforts to make the team reach new levels, whether they needed to score more shots or turn the ball around, they knew Roth would get the job done.

“He was just a guy you could really [count on],” Daniel-Dalton said. “If we need a three, we get a three. If he has a mismatch, he’ll capitalize on that mismatch or you never know he’s tipping the ball loose and we get another rebound, another shot. He was big time and he was always a guy I could count on.”

Although his last year at SFSU was a different kind of pressure, he was able to make this a successful season. Roth reached a season high of 20 points when the Gators went against Dominican University of California last November and a personal high number of rebounds of 12 against California State University, San Marcos.

“I had some high expectations for myself this year being in all-conference, all honorable mention last year,” Roth said. “Being a senior this year, I knew that they were going to be looking at me a lot this year, and some of that pressure weighed on me over the year, and I definitely had some turbulence, but I think that I never let it break me.”

He’s gotten the recognition he deserves for his efforts as a starting forward from his coach, teammates, and the league. Roth has developed into a well-rounded player with multiple honorable mentions.

“I’m proud to have another all-conference, all-mentioned to my name this year,” Roth said. “I just really thank my coaches and teammates because they’re the ones who stood by me while I was struggling and they also put in just as much work.”

Roth was awarded an All-CCAA Honorable Mention this season for the second time at SFSU. Inglima praises Roth for being a great student as well and being able to be great in both school and basketball.

“He is a superstar,” Inglima said. “Pretty sure he’s got a 4.0. He’s a tremendous hard worker on the court, tremendous hard worker in the classroom. As far as being a student-athlete, he balanced that really well. Sometimes you get guys who are super into school and not. So it’s great to see him get that recognition because it’s well deserved.”

This story was originally published on GoldenGateXpress on March 11, 2024.