So, Pitt has a 4-star point guard coming in for the fall. I’m sure people are doing fine at tempering their expectations. Not claiming that the kid can and should be the starter immediately. Not projecting too much on him right away. Being realistic that averaging around 15-20 minutes per game would be about what is reasonable and a good sign that he will be a vital part of the team for 2012 and beyond.
Well, here’s a really good scouting report on where James Robinson is, after practicing and playing with other top players at the Nike Hoops Summit last week.
A quintessential Pitt Point Guard, James Robinson (#45 ESPN, #79 Scout, #58 Rivals) showed quite a bit of intrigue throughout the week in practice and played the role of deferential facilitator during the Hoop Summit game. A late addition to the US roster after Marcus Paige suffered a stress fracture in his left foot, Robinson was perhaps the least highly touted player on the US Junior Select Team, but impressed over the course of the practices with his leadership on the floor and overall skill level.
Presence and leadership. Check.
Standing 6’2 with a ready-made frame for the college game, Robinson does not have elite quickness or explosiveness, but is a decent athlete across the board. He compensates for his lack of elite quickness by playing the game at different speeds and using his strength and toughness to his advantage when driving the lane.
Translation to cliche-speak: Crafty. Already strong enough to play right away.
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.
Takes direction well. Knows how to run a team, and a good passer. It matches much of what has been described of Robinson before this. That he is a team player. More translation to cliche-speak: plays the game the right way.
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.
Strong enough to attack the basket, but not exactly fast enough to blow by them. Good shooter and range, though, should give him chances to either shoot or drive depending on which option the defender is trying to deny. Very encouraging. Add in the fact that he can handle catch-and-shoot opportunities and it bodes well when Pitt needs to have more ball handlers on the court (i.e., facing teams that press) without sacrificing as much on offense.
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.
That description, essentially nails what Coach Dixon wants on defense. Keeps the man in front of him, doesn’t take unnecessary chances on defense.
Though Robinson lacks the physical tools of an elite prospect, his efficient style of play is rather rare for a point guard his age. If he can develop his scoring ability a bit, his low-mistake style of basketball could make him a valuable commodity for the Panthers as they transition to the ACC, and possibly help him emerge as a legit NBA prospect down the road.
Basically that report reads like Robinson and Pitt are a perfect match. His game is very much what Coach Dixon wants. Not to mention, what Pitt fans have appreciated when Brandin Knight and Levance Fields ran the point. Efficient offense and limiting mistakes.
It also reads as a review of a player who won’t and shouldn’t be expected to be the starting point guard in his freshman year. The good news, is he doesn’t seem worried about that. Part of why he chose Pitt, is because of the player development. His high school coach mentions how Pitt and Robinson are a perfect match, and as a player that always wants to work on his game. To get better not just as a player but for the whole team.
Robinson has always been a hard worker, [DeMatha teammate, Kameron] 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.
He began his high school career as a shooting guard while waiting for his turn to take over the team. Now, he has a commanding and dominating presence on the court, [DeMatha head coach Mike] Jones said, and puts his teammates in the position to do what he wants them to do.
Off the court, Jones called Robinson laid back and quiet, although not shy — a man who doesn’t have to talk much, but is still the “alpha dog in the room.”
“He’s the one everybody watches for ‘What is James doing? How is James behaving? How is James reacting?’” Jones said.
He’s the player who shows up in the gym in the morning before school and stays after practice to put up extra shots. Jones stressed that in Robinson’s case, “hard worker” isn’t just a phrase.
To say that this article will make you very optimistic for Robinson’s future at Pitt is probably an understatement.