Put Me In, Coach?
Few people would be surprised to hear Big-12 Player of the Year Thomas Robinson was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school. The much more surprising thing is that Robinson averaged 10.9 mnutes, 4.45 points, 4.45 rebounds, shot 45% from the foul line, and 0% from the 3-point line in his first two seasons. The junior forward was a minimal contributor who looked bound for college basketball facelessness. The redemptive junior has not only filled the void left by the Morris twins, but with Jeff Withey has become an even more dominate inside duo.
Thomas Robinson had no reason to expect to be the best player in the Big-12 this season. For his first two years, Robinson chilled on the benh, watching others make a difference for his team. Finally, opportunity came for the Washington D.C. native who played his high school ball in New Hampshire. He was ranked the 31st best recruited in 2009 by Rivals.com. He was behind such heavyweights as Tyler Honeycutt, Latavious Williams, Abdul Gaddy, and Keith Gallon. Even back in those days, Thomas Robinson was undervalued. He was cited as the third best recruit Kansas signed that year. Xavier Henry and Elijah Johnson were supposed to become better players than Robinson. He watched as Henry was becoming a household name in 2010. He was a spectator for the Morris twins last year. He found playing time when Markieff and Marcus needed a blow or ended up in foul trouble. Despite beinga 60.9% shooter from the floor last year, Bill Self considered Robinson to be nothing more than a void-filler. For a second time, someone felt Robinson was not up to snuff. His own coach Bill Self who this year has said he always knew Robinson had it in him allowed T-Rob to warm the bench unless needed. If Bill Self knew Robinson could always be this good of a player, why was he resting on the bench. Other star recruits have always seen opportunity for Self. Even Josh Selby who began the year academically ineligible found his way onto the hardwood during gametime. T-Rob watched from the bench. This year, the Jayhawks were supposed to struggle all year The inside force was gone and would not be back. The analysts apparently did not account for the massive width of Thomas Robinson’s shoulders. Robinson was once again undervalued, this time by the supposed genius minds of the college basketball analysts. The Morris twins only took Kansas to the Elite Eight and then lost to an #11 seed in Virginia Commonwealth. T-Rob watched from the bench. In the 2012 edition of the Elite Eight, Robinson saw #1 seed standing in the way of the Jayhawks. That’s a team seeded 10 places lower than the Rams faced last year. Robinson’s former spot on the bench was filled with a noticably less-girthy individual. The scoreboard was filled with a much noticably favorable result for Kansas. Robinson scored 18 points, grabbed 9 boards and Kansas beat a lottery-packed North Carolina team 80-67. The 2012 tournament has seen Robison average 16 points and 12.5 rebounds. Not shabby for someone who overlooked by recruiters, coaches, and analysts for the bulk of his entire career. Robinson has grasped the last laugh, especially come June when he is drafted, and is sitting pretty in the Final Four.