April 16, 2014
By Chad Shepard
University of Michigan men's basketball forward Glenn Robinson III announced Tuesday (April 15) he will forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft. Robinson leaves U-M an accomplished player, as a national finalist with back-to-back Elite Eight appearances and an outright Big Ten Title. He is gifted with physical tools and athleticism that create a package certain to intrigue pro clubs when the NBA holds its annual draft in June.
Although classmate and fellow draft entry Nik Stauskas arrived in Ann Arbor already famous for his contributions to YouTube, it is Robinson whose thunderous slam dunks have been clipped and strung together into lengthy internet videos. He can be seen soaring above the rim in Maize and Blue, leaping over and over, highlight after highlight. Now Robinson is ready to take the next jump -- this time, to the NBA.
Scouts praise his natural athleticism, but teammates insist Robinson is as hard a worker as you can find in the Michigan locker room. As a true small forward, Robinson was asked to play out of position in the Michigan offense, but the talented scorer blossomed in a situation many would have been unable to adjust to.
"I just went out there and played as hard as I could to help this team win," said Robinson; and win they did. The U-M sophomore class combined for 59 wins over their two years in Ann Arbor, the highest total over any two-year span in Michigan basketball history.
Robinson was an integral piece on both ends of the floor, showing the touch and ability to score from anywhere in the half court and constantly displaying his prized athleticism by guarding taller, heavier players on a regular basis.
"At the next level, guys are playing the three at that size," Robinson said, "It will definitely help me, especially with the physicality."
Robinson's durability will be another attractive characteristic to pro clubs; he started each and every game for the Maize and Blue since the day he stepped on campus, totaling 76 straight starts in his career while averaging 33.0 minutes a night against the Big Ten's best. In fact, the two-time all-conference honorable mention never even sat out a practice.
"I think it comes from mentality," he explained, "It goes back to my mom and grandma not letting me (sit out). You have to be pretty tough to take on an 82-game season, and I think that will help."
That mentality and toughness are part of what led Robinson's teammates to vote him a team captain as a sophomore, just the fourth in U-M history. His leadership style can be observed clearly in crunch time, like when he sank a dagger corner three to bury Indiana, helping to clinch Michigan's first outright Big Ten title since 1986, or when he calmly performed mid-air acrobatics to bring a drawn-up, backyard play to life to sink the game-winner against Purdue. Robinson shines when he is needed most.
"I love those clutch moments; I love taking a big shot," said Robinson, "I definitely think you need that confidence about you when you're taking a big step like this."
Robinson's poise on the floor translates to a cool confidence when describing his game, aided by his versatility in head coach John Beilein's offense.
"I think I might have one of the best overall games in this draft, from defensive to offensive," he said, "Scoring in a number of different ways within the system has definitely helped me as a player, whether it's coming off screens and shooting the ball or driving to the basket. Also in transition, and that's a big part of the next level."
Robinson is counting on his experience battling through adversity to help him through the rigors of a long NBA campaign.
"Mentally, I've been through a lot this year," he said, "Just to see how you can come out on the better side of things in the end, even when it isn't going your way throughout the season, which will help me in the future."
"Talking to Tim and Trey, there's a lot of ups and downs at the next level," Robinson said, "To have gone through some of those already is definitely going to help me."
Despite an NBA pedigree, Robinson is eager to make his name in the NBA and write his own story. He has had a first-row seat to watch his former teammates teach him how to do just that, but Robinson has also shaped his perceptions of the league from talking with Indiana Pacers star Paul George.
"I had a chance to talk to Paul and get to know him this past year," said Robinson, "He's a great guy, and it's crazy how similar we are in off-the-court activities. For example, we both love fishing. He's a great overall player and a great defender, so definitely someone I look up to."
To Robinson, the most impactful bit of advice came from Hardaway, about commitment, "If you're ready to go, then go. If you have any doubt, then stay," he repeated, "It's a two-feet-in, two-feet-out mindset. Now I think I'm ready to make that jump."
Whether those two feet are standing on the ground or kicking through the air (Robinson has a 44-inch vertical) when he makes the leap into pro basketball, Michigan fans will enjoy watching Glenn Robinson soar in the NBA.