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Hall call: Rosefelt was big man in middle

September 17, 2013

Editor's note: This profile on Isaac Rosefelt '07 is the 11th in a 13-part series by Valerie Turgeon '13 on the alumni who will be inducted into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 19. Read a new profile every day in


Isaac Rosefelt '07 reflects back on his high school graduation 10 years ago and remembers telling people that his ultimate dream was to become a professional basketball player.

This dream wasn't so reachable when Rosefelt began to hate basketball during his freshman year at Division I Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he had full-ride athletic scholarship.

"I didn't like that basketball was my entire life at the D-1 level," Rosefelt said. "I actually began to hate playing. I wanted the full college experience and to be challenged academically as well as athletically."

By transferring to St. Thomas for his sophomore year, Rosefelt received the experience he had desired. His love for the game returned, and he went on to become a professional basketball player.

In three seasons and 80 games playing for the Tommies, Rosefelt starred at center and ranked 12th in career scoring (1,367 points) and fourth in career rebounding (859). He also had 177 blocked shots and 44 double-doubles in points and rebounds. He was the first player in 20-plus years to lead the MIAC in rebounding for three consecutive seasons, and he averaged 16.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in nine career postseason games.

He became the first conference player selected as a two-time, first-team All-America by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He was also a two-time MIAC Player of the Year and two-time West Region Player of the Year.

Rosefelt considers his biggest accomplishment what he did for the team and for the future of Tommie basketball. When they played at Gustavus early in 2005, the Gusties were a top 10 team and the two-time defending conference champion, and St. Thomas was unranked.

"On paper, they were supposed to beat us and they were a favorite in the league, but we destroyed them," he said of the 87-51 win. "Everything changed from that night on. It was a turning point for us. It made us want to work even harder because we knew what our team was capable of. That year started the streak of (eight) conference championships."

Rosefelt helped Tommies post a 62-18 overall record in three seasons, with MIAC regular-season and playoff titles in each of his last two seasons.

The game against Gustavus is what Rosefelt considers to be the best game he played, as he scored 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. It was also around this time during his junior year that he said, "I began to see that becoming a professional player was possible."

Rosefelt received some valuable exposure in April 2007 when he was among 60 players from NCAA Division II and III and NAIA teams chosen to play in the inaugural Collegiate Basketball Invitational. After graduating in May, he went to a camp and played for coaches overseas. He signed with an agent and in August began to play for a team in Spain. Since then he has played for teams in France and Portugal, and he is in his fourth season playing for an Israeli team.

"In the beginning it was hard, both financially and being away from family," he said, "but now I've established myself and am able to make basketball my career, which is incredible."

In the summer, Rosefelt returns home to St. Paul and maintains a workout routine while coaching basketball camps at St. Thomas.

He is thankful for the full experience that he received at St. Thomas and "wouldn't change a thing" because it helped him love basketball again.

"I came from a place where I began to hate basketball and the game," he said. "The relationships I made with my teammates and coaches helped me change that. They are guys I'll stay in contact with my whole life."

He considers it an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"For me, the award represents the way the school, the coaches and the players welcomed me with open arms when I transferred," he said. "I am humbled and though this is an individual award, I wouldn't have gotten it without the support of my coaches, teammates, friends and especially my parents Harry and Nina and my brother Josh. I would not be where I am today without all of them."

Because Rosefelt will be in Israel beginning another basketball season, he will not be able to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony but will be represented by his family.

"I am very disappointed I cannot make it," he said. "I really wish I could be there."

2013 St. Thomas Athletics Hall of Fame inductees:

Jake Barkley 2003 Football

Nikki Conway 2006 Softball

Roman Cress 2003 Track & Field

Carrie Embree 2007 Softball, Basketball

Jane Gibbs-Becker 2004 Volleyball

Kristal Grigsby 2006 Track & Field

Andrew Hilliard 2003 Track & Field, Football

Diane Loughlin Urick 1989 Track & Field, Cross Country

Janet Nagle 2006 Softball

Steve Pignato 1997 Baseball

Isaac Rosefelt 2007 Basketball

Tessie Thompson 2003 Soccer

Michelle Wong 2005 Softball