01 May 2012
In what I can only assume is an effort to provide bored Pitt bloggers a topic of discussion in these dire spring months, Pitt signee James Robinson is trying out for Team USA's Under 18 team. Cameron Wright tried out for last year's Under 19 team but didn't make the cut, however, Ashton Gibbs had a great experience with the Dixon coached the U19 team in 2010 that won the gold and is credited with his development.
The invitees are led by Tennessee sophomore Jarnell Stokes, Michigan State signee Gary Harris and Duke signee Rasheed Sulaimon. Robinson will be competing for a spot with fellow point guards Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Kris Dunn (Providence) and 2013 point guards Andrew Harrison and Nate Britt. Robinson's teammate and Syracuse SF signee Jerami Grant was also invited.
Probably a bit of an uphill battle for Robinson just by glancing at the player rankings, but he's certainly in top-tier of 2012 point guards so anything can happen.
The tryouts are in the beginning of June in Colorado and the games begin June 16th in Brazil. We'll be following this closely.
It won't be Robinson's first time representing the USA. This month, Robinson participated in the Nike sponsored "Hoop Summit" event in Oregon. Robinson kept a diary of the event, so you can read about how Nike sinks their claws in kids early provides developmental assistance young men.
(More after the jump)
It also gave basketball outlets a scouting forum and NBADraftExpress.com was there to share some opinions on Robinson's game (via):
A capable ball-handler with good fundamentals, Robinson has the makings of a solid distributor at the next level. He is by no means a flashy passer who will break down defenders in one-on-one situations, but he plays disciplined basketball, organizes his teammates, does what his coaches ask of him, and looks to find the open man. We didn't get to see much of that in the actual Hoop Summit game due to the highly disorganized nature of his team's offense, but that was extremely evident in the practice sessions leading up to the game.
As a scorer, Robinson shows the ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc in catch and shoot situations, and displays a knack for using his strength around the rim. He's not a creative finisher, and his lack of great speed limits his ability to get out in transition prolifically or beat opponents off the dribble regularly in the half-court, but his shooting ability is a major plus, as his consistent, reliable mechanics will keep defenders honest at the next level.
Defensively, Robinson plays with good intensity and doesn't give up anything easy. His quickness is not great, and he doesn't have a long wingspan (measured 6-2 ½), but he's a tough and team-oriented player on this end of the floor –two things that should endear him to Jamie Dixon early in his Pittsburgh career.
As the writer concedes, these type of events are tough make set-in-stone evaluations, but two sentences into the review and it's already evident what Jamie Dixon sees in him. Dixon isn't looking for a Kentucky-style "turnover-transition-score" guard. That has never been the case and it hasn't changed as Pitt's recruiting ability has grown. Rather, Dixon wants a solid defender who can run the halfcourt offense while limiting turnovers. And that seems to be exactly what Robinson is.
Outgoing Pitt News Sports Editor Lauren Kirschman wrote a very good feature on him this month (via the Pitt News):
He took that guidance and transferred it to his teammates. He shows his true leadership abilities after losses, when [teammate Kameron] Taylor said he is the player in the locker room making sure the team stays together and telling his teammates to come back harder in the next game.
Robinson said he’ll do whatever is necessary for his team to win, whether that means involving his teammates, taking a charge or diving on the floor for a loose ball.
“I try to play under control as well as I can,” he said. “Unselfish, but if there are times when I need to assert myself more, then I can do that. I try to stay calm as possible and be an extension of the coach on the court.”
Robinson has always been a hard worker, Taylor said, calling the point guard the team’s “role model.” Even when the players are exhausted, Robinson is the team member who keeps pushing them in practice.
There were a lot of good options for me to excerpt, so go read the whole article if you haven't already. There were also a lot of good comparisons for Robinson: leadership like Levance Fields, toughness like Carl Krauser, work ethic like Ashton Gibbs. All very good things.
Robinson has already started building relationships within his Pitt's 2012 recruiting class (via National Recruiting Spotlight):
Do you know any of the other class of 2012 commits?
Yeah, definitely. I talked to [shooting guard] Chris [Jones] the day after he committed. I talk to [center] Steven Adams regularly over Twitter. We have a pretty good relationship right now that we’re looking to expand on once we get to campus.
What do you think of those guys in terms of their basketball skills?
I think we’re going to gel together well. Steve is obviously a dominant big man and Chris can score the ball from any spot on the court. My job is just to make sure they get the ball where they want it and play tough defense and be an extension of the coach when I’m on the court.
Fantastic to hear. If transfer Trey Zeigler is eligible to play in the fall, there's no reason everyone but Jones shouldn't be serious contributors immediately. Zeigler and Adams may even start from day one and Robinson would almost certainly play serious minutes behind Woodall.
Finally, some recent(ish) highlights of Robinson from Dematha's west coast tournament over the Christmas holiday: