- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 09 December 2015
- Written by JOHN SORCE | STAFF WRITER
Junior guard Justin Robinson has been proving people wrong his entire life. Just look at when the Hawks star player, listed at 5’8”, reflected back after the team’s victory over The University of Southern California in the third place game of the AdvoCare Invitational.
“One incident that I remember was when we were at the Hoop Group. I played pretty well and a coach came up to me and asked if I wanted to play for him. I asked him what school he was from and it was a Division III program. I told him ‘I’m not going to close the door on anything, but I’m hoping to get a Division I offer’ and he kind of laughed in my face. That’s just been my whole life; to prove people wrong and let my play speak.”
Robinson got his Division I offer from Monmouth and made an immediate impact since arriving in West Long Branch in the fall of 2013. He started 25 of the 28 games he played in his freshman year and was named First Team All-MAAC in his sophomore year.
He recently broke Michael Beasley’s record for scoring at the AdvoCare Invitational by scoring 77 points in the three games and took home the tournament’s MVP honors. Head coach King Rice has enjoyed every second of Robinson’s career at Monmouth.
“(Coaching Justin) has been awesome,” Rice said. “Justin is a great young man. He’s from a strong, close family. He’s been proving people wrong his whole life. I told him when I met him how much I believe in him. I didn’t care about the concerns that other people had. I thought he was a really good player and he was better than I thought when I got him.”
Robinson played four years of varsity basketball at Kingston High School in Kingston, New York. Mark Wyncoop was an assistant coach through Robinson’s career there.
“He has always used his size as a chip on his shoulder and he has always used that to prove people wrong,” Wyncoop said. “In our league, he had everybody’s respect by the time he was in tenth grade because they all knew what he could do. He’s always had a big heart and that has helped him continue his success.”
Robinson reflected back on his high school career and pointed out that not being the main guy early on helped him develop his all-around game.
“My freshman year was more of a learning experience since I wasn’t really allowed to shoot the ball too much,” Robinson said. “I took on more of a scoring role my sophomore year. My junior and senior years I became the top scorer but I kept my teammates involved as well which helped me develop my game as a point guard.”
There are many aspects to Robinson’s game that separates him from other players, according to Wyncoop.
“The great thing about Justin is that he sees things on the floor that nobody else can see,” Wyncoop said. “He just has incredible vision and knows where guys are. He’s lightening quick and his overall athleticism; I can remember like it happened yesterday. He pulled me aside after one practice and he said ‘Hey coach Coop, check this out.’ He takes a basketball, bounces it and he goes up and dunks it and I was like ‘Oh my God did he just do that?’ and he was 5’6” at the time. He just has tremendous athleticism. Tremendous.”
Robinson shines off the court as much as he does on it, as he is always trying to make himself better in any way that he can. Rice believes that will take his basketball career a long way.
“Justin is the nicest young man,” Rice said. “All of this success will not go to his head. He’s going to be in the gym, or with his family. That’s what he does and he is truly a worker. That’s why someday he will be able to play after college and it’s going to be fun to watch him be able to take care of his family because of the game of basketball.”
Robinson strives every day to achieve his goal of playing at the next level one day, but he is enjoying his time at Monmouth and taking things one step at a time.
“That’s been my dream my entire life but right now my goal is to win a MAAC Championship for these next two years. I have a tremendous team around me with a tremendous coaching staff and the students on campus make it feel very welcoming,” Robisnon concluded.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics