Lou Roe never saw himself going into coaching until the latter portion of his 18-year playing career in professional basketball.
But as he got older, the Atlantic City native found himself helping younger players without even realizing it.
Now, Roe might make coaching the next step of his career. The 40-year-old is wrapping up his first season working part time under men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg at the University of Massachusetts, where Roe starred from 1991-95.
“I accumulated a lot of experiences during that time and accomplished a lot,” Roe said in a recent phone interview. “People were quite intrigued by that, young players. … I found myself in certain situations giving advice and even teaching sometimes to help them with their games and how they deal with certain situations.”
Roe starred at Atlantic City High School from 1988-91 and holds the school’s all-time scoring record with 1,804 points. He recently was inducted into the Al Carino South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame, along with former Wildwood star Monica Johnson.
At Massachusetts, he was a second-team All-American as a senior. He will be among 16 players honored Saturday in the Atlantic 10 Conference’s inaugural Men’s Basketball Legends class.
Roe spent two seasons in the NBA and also played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association, Spain, Mexico, South Korea, Italy and Argentina.
Roe isn’t sure what the next step is in his career. It could be coaching, but he is finishing his degree in sports broadcasting, so that is an option, too.
“I’m kind of feeling myself out,” he said.
UMass was the perfect place because it allowed him to finish his degree — fulfilling a promise he made to his mother, Madeline — while also working with the basketball team.
Roe’s official title is “administrative assistant” to former teammate Kellogg, but that’s a bit deceiving. Roe isn’t permitted to instruct on the court — NCAA rules limit the amount of coaches a team can have — but he’s not doing paperwork or answering phones.
“I serve as a mentor and ambassador of the team right now,” Roe said. “I’m just here around the guys, giving them advice. To be next to them, I’m one of five guys that has their jersey retired, so they kind of respect that I’m there and around.”
Kellogg said when he hired Roe that an alumnus of his stature can have a positive impact in many ways, from helping the players to marketing the team.
“He’ll be the biggest fan favorite, including the head coach,” Kelloff told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Roe said if he gets into coaching full-time in the future, it would be in college because that’s the age group to which he has the most to offer.
Regardless, one thing Roe knows he wants to do is give back to Atlantic City. He hopes to return at some point after finishing his degree this spring, and to use his experiences to help kids here.
“I know how tough it is to grow up in that kind of community,” he said. “And I understand some of the kids’ frustration in trying to, they want to better themselves. And I think for me, to be able to come back there and establish something where the kids are connected more so throughout the world, where they have an opportunity to say, ‘I can go to school in California, I can go, I can travel to Europe to do one of those classes abroad,’ those kind of things.
“I want them to see the world as it is — a bigger world, as opposed to just those small communities in Atlantic City.”
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