IOWA CITY — Four years ago, Charlie Rose took a chance.
He was a gifted multi-sport athlete at one of the larger high schools in the Chicago area and he had plenty of NCAA Division II and III colleges who wanted him to join their basketball programs.
Rose wanted something more.
Academics and a total college experience were higher priorities for him than playing time. So he enrolled at the University of Iowa hoping that maybe — just maybe — he might be able to latch on with the basketball team.
He’s come out of it smelling like a, well, um … rose.
He’s gotten to play in the NCAA tournament. He got to tour Europe with the Hawkeyes. He’s been to some of the most intense college atmospheres in the country. He’s made friends that will last a lifetime.
Along the way, he has played exactly 39 minutes in 22 games.
It has been, in his words, “a dream come true."
It all will come to an end today when Rose is introduced as one of two departing seniors — along with Dom Uhl — prior to a game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I knew I could have played somewhere," said Rose, who starred in both basketball and football at York High School in the western suburb of Elmhurst. “I had some offers from D-II, D-III, but I knew I wanted to go somewhere big.
“This is a great school academically and I was lucky enough to be able to try out my freshman year and then also my junior year. Just the big atmosphere of the Big Ten and having a courtside seat for every game, being able to play with a bunch of Big Ten caliber players every single day and become really good friends with them … It’s awesome."
Rose is the only player on the Iowa roster who was not recruited to be a Hawkeye. The other non-scholarship players on the team — Riley Till, Austin Ash, Connor McCaffery — arrived as preferred walk-ons.
Rose did this the hard way. He worked — and talked — his way onto the roster.
On a campus the size of Iowa there are plenty of people like Rose, guys who were good athletes in high school who could help the team out in practice.
“But the key is to find a guy who can play, who is smart, who is intelligent in the classroom, and has the perfect attitude," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “You don't need any issues on your basketball team with walk-ons. You can't have it."
McCaffery calls Rose “a spectacular individual.
“He's the consummate professional in terms of everything he does and his approach. He's on the Dean's list. He shows up, he stays late, he learns the offenses and defenses of our opponents. He's best friends with some of the guys on the team. He's had a wonderful experience, and he's been exactly what you hoped he would be.
The 6-foot-4 Rose started every game for York in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, teaming with a pair of current Division I players — William & Mary point guard David Cohn and Air Force center Frank Touhey — to lead the Dukes to a 47-14 record over those two seasons.
Rose averaged 10 points, six rebounds and three assists per game as a senior and was, in the words of York coach Vince Doran, “one of the smartest players I’ve ever had."
“He’s just a super kid," Doran said. “Down to earth type of kid."
Doran did what he could to help Rose find his way onto the Iowa roster in the fall of 2014, making a few phone calls to Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis.
“I kind of kept my fingers crossed about it because I know how competitive this is," Doran said. “It’s Big Ten basketball. I know you have to get a few breaks when you’re a walk-on."
Rose also was in contact with the Iowa coaches and went through a few workouts with players such as Bettendorf’s Nicholas Baer, who was just joining the team as a preferred walk-on.
The coaches finally put him through a tryout with a couple of other players and decided to give him a roster spot.
“Just wanted an opportunity to play," McCaffery said. “Tried out for the team, didn't know who he was, but he's really smart and he's pretty good, a pretty good player."
Rose spent that season on the Iowa scout team along with Baer and another freshman, Brady Ellingson, simulating the upcoming opponents in practice.
He got into eight games, made the only shot he took (a 3-pointer against North Dakota State) and was credited with an assist in a victory over Davidson in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The next year he was out of a job.
The Hawkeyes brought in twin brothers Michael and Steven Soukup from Danville, Iowa, as walk-ons and didn’t have room on the roster for Rose.
“It was a numbers thing," he said. “It’s business. It’s the Big Ten. I get it."
The next year the Soukups were gone and Rose got another shot. He landed a roster spot again and has been on the team ever since.
“The one year he didn’t get that break, but I think his positive attitude helped," Doran said. “He kept coming back. I think that was the one thing about him. He just has a no-quit attitude."
Rose has continued to be a valued member of the scout team and got into seven games in mop-up situation each of the past two seasons.
The Hawkeyes haven’t enjoyed the same sort of team success in those two years, but Rose said he still gets a sense of fulfillment from watching a team on the court that he knows he helped prepare in practice.
“When we are doing well in practice, hopefully that translates well into the game," he said. “It’s nice to see them shut down the plays that they shut us down on in practice. It’s very satisfying."
He said those are the things he will remember from his years on the Iowa roster: The practices, the late-night shooting workouts, seemingly insignificant little moments in the locker room.
He said it’s “pretty wild" that it already is coming to an end.
He will have his parents, Robert and Kathleen Rose, there with him for the ceremonies today along with sisters Caroline and Sarah, both of whom are accomplished volleyball players. Caroline plays for Western Michigan and Sarah has signed to play at Marquette next fall.
“I’m just happy my family will be here to see me recognized before the game even if I don’t get to play," Rose said.
Doran will be watching, too, on television.
“He had his heart set on going to a bigger school," Doran said. “He’s definitely someone who in my opinion could have gone to a Division II or III school and been one of the better players …
“He kind of went for it. He really has lived the dream. Every time I watch them, I see him on the bench putting up 3s after somebody hits a 3 for Iowa. He’s just had such a great experience at Iowa … It’s been fantastic to watch."