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Florida guard seeks to ‘help others,’ as well as Mastodons

There are a lot of adjustments that have to be made by college freshmen, including developing the ability to handle pressure.

Tionne Rollins will be no different than most young people in their quest to develop through the next stage of their lives, however, handling pressure probably won’t be as big of a concern to Rollins as most.

The Oldsmar Christian High School (Oldsmar, Florida) senior relieved some of the pressure on himself by deciding Sunday which college he would attend, as the talented basketball player verbally committed to play for Fort Wayne.

“I liked the coaching staff,” Rollins told The News-Sentinel. “They made me feel welcomed.”

Rollins first appeared on the Mastodons’ radar this summer after fourth-year Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman watched him play in a summer circuit game. Having the head coach of a successful NCAA Division I program serve as the lead recruiter in this process resonated with Rollins, who was also being recruited by Boston University and Tennessee Tech.

“I was looking for a coach that actually wanted me and showed very good interest in me,” Rollins said. “Coach Coffman was on me ever since he saw me play. That was a positive for me.”

Rollins not only showed the ability to play this summer, he’s been demonstrating his skills and athleticism for several years.

The past three years, he played for Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, and he helped the Trojans make consecutive appearances in the FHSSA Class 8A Final Four. So despite his youth, Rollins can handle intense competition.

As a junior, Rollins’ team fell by six points in the semifinal, while they also lost by six in a tough state title game last March.

In the championship game, Rollins was one of three Trojan players that scored a team-best nine points, but his versatility as a scoring point guard really shined in the semifinal.

Lincoln dominated Palm Beach Lakes in that game and the 6-foot-1 Rollins did just about everything, as he scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and also dished out four assists.

“I’m a guard that can score,” Rollins said, “but I can also get other people open shots. I like to drive and get others shots.”

The Lincoln High community was rocked last season, as the Trojans’ coach was suspended mid-season and later arrested and charged with three separate charges of grand theft, scheme to defraud, and uttering a forged instrument. He was accused of stealing $13,000 in school funds. That turmoil played a role in Rollins’ transferring to Oldsmar Christian.

“It was very hard,” Rollins said of leaving Lincoln. “I know that I am going to miss my teammates.”

However, Rollins made the decision and is focused on turning his first year away from home into a positive one in terms of his development.

“I felt like this was the best decision for me as a player to get better,” Rollins said of the move, “and better myself for college in going away from home.

“When I go to college, now I’ll be prepared and ready. It will be a good learning year.”

Rollins has spent a lot of time “learning” already. He is an exemplary student that enjoys biology and math, and he has plans on becoming a physician later in life.

“I want to be able to help other people,” Rollins said, “and everybody is always going to need a doctor.”

Fort Wayne has three scholarships available for the 2018 recruiting class, as center Xzavier Taylor and perimeter players Jordan King and Bryson Scott each graduate next spring.

Rollins is the fist player to commit to the Mastodons in this class.

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