Recruit skips summer workouts for tournament win in Brazil
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There are few excuses an incoming college freshman can use to be excused from the first week of summer basketball workouts.
Even fewer would have pleased Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.
But point guard James Robinson provided the proper alibi to miss those workouts, as well as the first week of summer league games.
Robinson was busy representing the United States in the FIBA Americas Under-18 championships. Robinson and his teammates went 5-0 in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil, to win the tournament.
"It's great for the school, it's great for [Robinson]," Dixon said after Robinson's first summer league appearance at the Pittsburgh Summer Pro-Am League at Greentree SportsPlex.
"It's a great opportunity. He was away from us for a couple weeks, but all for a good reason."
After returning stateside, Robinson made his first pro-am league start at point guard in PGT Trucking's 67-66 win June 25, alongside three other Panthers teammates, including classmate Steven Adams of New Zealand.
Robinson went 1 for 6 shooting from the field, but added two rebounds and two assists to his three points, along with two turnovers.
"A majority of the team that's healthy is out here playing, so it was a good environment to be real competitive," Robinson said.
"It was my first experience, getting my legs underneath me still."
The highly rated four-star recruit provided a needed spark off the bench in the second half.
Robinson checked in at the scorers table with about 14 minutes left in the game and his team trailing by seven. A 12-3 run over the next 4:45 gave PGT a 52-50 lead.
Halfway through the charge, the 6-foot-3 Robinson out-jumped everyone else on the court for a rebound. As soon as he landed, Robinson's pass-first mindset took over. He pivoted and unleashed a full-court outlet pass for an easy layup at the other end. The bucket cut the lead to three. If an opponent had grabbed the rebound at the rim, it could have risen back to the seven-point gap.
"We have a lot of talent on our team," Robinson said after the play.
"We just felt we needed to get the job done ... Hopefully, we keep everybody healthy and get the job done [in Pitt's regular season]."
Robinson left DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., as the winningest player in school history.
After his high school career ended, Robinson went to the Nike Hoops Summit in April where his USA Junior National Select Team lost, 84-75, to the World Select Team. That bitter loss motivated Robinson in Brazil.
"It felt good for me personally to walk away from the FIBA games with a gold medal," Robinson said.
"I felt like I could get to the bucket, and that's what I did, but at the end of the day, I still found my teammates when they were open."
Robinson finds his teammates with regularity. In his next two summer league games, he totaled 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and only turned the ball over once.
That type of assist-to-turnover ratio should fit well into the Panthers offense and should also benefit the 7-foot Adams.
"I'm going to need Steve, and the team's going to need Steve," Robinson said.
"Hopefully they can rely on me for something throughout the season."
"It felt good for me personally to walk away from the FIBA games with a gold medal."
First Published July 5, 2012 12:00 am