Rochelle Zell graduate Zach Rosen looks to be a basketball lifer
Zach Rosen is in a great place.
The recent graduate of Deerfield's Rochelle Zell High School is working his summer job at Camp Ramah in Conover, Wisconsin, near Eagle River, up near the Michigan border.
Ramah is an overnight camp for children ages 8 to 16 that, as the camping program's mission states, inspires commitment to Jewish life and develops young Jewish leaders.
Rosen, who attended himself when he was younger, is now a camp sports director.
"I get to be around basketball all day," he said.
That is key, because the sport of basketball is where Rosen sees his future -- immediate and long-term.
One week after he gets back from Ramah, he leaves for Grinnell College in Iowa. He'll hop into Pioneers coach David Arsenault Jr.'s running, gunning, mass-substituting system that averaged 103.3 points last season, third in Division III.
It's a great place for the 5-foot-10 Rosen, an all-around athlete who averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals last season at Rochelle Zell. Rosen, who scored a career-high 27 points last season against Holy Trinity, earned Chicago Prep all-conference honors in both his junior and senior seasons, as he also did in baseball and soccer.
"Basically, the (Grinnell) offense is we get a rebound and we just run," Rosen said. "They feed the point guard -- me -- for the outlet (pass), and my job will be to set a player up either in transition or off a quick pick and roll. Quick decisions and quick reads are (among) my biggest strengths."
Rosen may be shortchanging himself.
"I think he's fundamentally a facilitator, but he can also score," said Paul Chanan, Rosen's baseball coach at Rochelle Zell, but well-versed in all things Zach Rosen.
"He's also hard to play against defensively, very long, steals the ball. He's got a great anticipation of what the offense he plays against is going to do and he can thwart that. He gets a lot of steals, a lot of long rebounds."
Because Grinnell will go 15 deep to maintain its up-and-down pace, and because Arsenault Jr. wanted him, Rosen anticipates he'll get four years of playing time.
"When I visited, almost everyone on the team reached out to me and talked to me, which didn't happen anywhere else," he said. "For me, the community is the thing, and the community is so tight and welcoming, and I'm so glad to be a part of it."
Rosen said Grinnell "came out of nowhere" in its recruitment. A little birdie told them, too.
"I sent film off to the coach, and after they saw what he could do they were super-interested and they pushed to get him," said Rochelle Zell basketball coach Marty Dello.
The coach said this is not a unique case for this school of about 180 students. Dello said Rosen is one of the top-recruited Tigers historically, but in his 11-year tenure there have been others, such as Josh Newlander, Jewish Hoops America's 2014 national player of the year. (JHA ranked the Rochelle Zell boys No. 11 in the country last season.)
"I think that's one nice thing about our program, is we've had players who've moved on, and so the young kids coming in want to make their own mark. That was Zach. He wanted to be a college player. His work ethic was second to none," Dello said.
Rosen wanted to play in college, particularly after seeing his older brother, Ari, go on to play baseball at Rose-Hulman in Indiana, where he's now a junior left-handed pitcher majoring in computer science.
Ari tutored Zach in speaking to and emailing coaches and aiding his overall recruiting process. The brothers -- a younger brother, Nathan, is an incoming junior at Deerfield High -- continue to communicate daily.
"He was like my college recruiting coordinator, but for free," Zach Rosen said of Ari.
Zach appreciated the help of all his coaches, including Lynn Mitchem of the All In basketball program, and Rochelle Zell soccer coach David Martinez. Rosen said he'd miss soccer the most just because it was a lot of fun running around on the field.
"I would not be playing college sports without any of these coaches and their guidance," he said.
When his playing days are over, Rosen still would like to be around basketball all day. He said Grinnell doesn't offer a sports management major, but he'd like to turn to coaching, preferably at the college level.
He doesn't have to declare a major until his sophomore year, and he's considering economics or psychology for when that comes. But like Chanan said, Rosen's passion is on a court or field, and that's where he'd like to stay.
"I love the game of basketball, I love sports, and I definitely want to be around it the rest of my life," Rosen said.