Monday, June 8, 2009

Leaving the nest

Freshman Robinson settling in at KU

Kansas University freshman Thomas Robinson signs an autograph for Bill Self Basketball camper Sean Novak, 13, of Overland Park. Self’s camp opened Sunday.

Kansas University freshman Thomas Robinson signs an autograph for Bill Self Basketball camper Sean Novak, 13, of Overland Park. Self’s camp opened Sunday.


Jayhawks interact with fans at summer camp

The college basketball season is months away, but that didn't stop a few lucky kids from meeting their favorite Jayhawks.

Thomas Robinson had a queasy feeling in his stomach as he waved goodbye to his mom, Lisa, and 6-year-old sister, Jayla Paris, Friday in his hometown of Washington, D.C.

“It was kind of scary. Yeah, it was,” said Robinson, Kansas University’s 18-year-old incoming freshman power forward from the nation’s capital.

He was experiencing firsthand the unsettling feeling of leaving the nest for the unknown of college.

“I’m finally going to college,” Robinson said of his thoughts.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound rebounding machine, who last November signed a letter of intent with KU over runner-up Memphis, has been busy since setting foot in Lawrence on Friday night.

He participated in KU’s Elite Camp for high school standouts Saturday. After hanging out with teammates Saturday night, he signed autographs for two hours Sunday — the opening day of the five-day Bill Self basketball camp.

In his other waking hours, Robinson did what most wide-eyed freshmen do in a new environment.

He phoned home.

How much time has he spent cell-phoning loved ones?

“Most of the time,” Robinson said with a laugh. “I talk to my mom, a lot of my friends, my brother (25-year-old Jamahl), grandmother, most of my family.”

Their message to him?

“That they are proud of me: ‘Don’t do anything stupid. Stay out of trouble. Keep working hard,’’’ Robinson related.

Spreading out in his own Jayhawker Towers apartment has been nice, he admits, but he sure won’t complain when roomie Elijah Johnson of Las Vegas arrives later this week.

“I can’t wait until he gets here … (to) have some company,” Robinson said.

As the first of KU’s newcomers to arrive for summer school, he has done more observing than talking.

“I’m getting to know the campus better, getting to know my teammates better. I’m not going to feel like a freshman. I’ve fit in with the guys right away,” he said.

Robinson, who averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks a game last season at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., already has impressed one of KU’s older players — junior pivot Cole Aldrich. Robinson held his own in scrimmages at Saturday’s Elite Camp.

“He’s going to be really good. He’s really quick, has unbelievable bounce, has good post moves. He’s really strong,” said Aldrich, who will be a big brother of sorts to Robinson in coming days.

“When you first get here, you don’t really know what to expect,” Aldrich said. “That’s where the ‘scared’ (feeling) comes from. You’ve just got to embrace everything that comes forth from here on out because it (college) is a blast.

“We are a family,” Aldrich added. “There are things we are probably not going to tell him, or exaggerate a little more. We’ve got Boot Camp. Boot Camp ... nobody makes it through. We’ll exaggerate stuff like that. We’ll embrace him. We’re excited for him to be here and the other guys to get here.”

Robinson tried to be the ultimate team player at the Elite Camp.

“I didn’t try to do too much. There were a lot of other (visiting prep) players trying to get their looks. It was pretty much going with the flow kind of thing,” Robinson said. “There were a lot of D-One players at the camp, a lot of talented players. It felt good knowing I was playing against other high school competition, but also good to know I’m out of high school and will enjoy competing on the college level.”

What will he bring to KU’s practices and games his freshman season?

“Defense, rebounding, hard playing, not taking a play off. I’m going to bring energy when I’m out there,” Robinson said.

The 2009-10 season is still a long way off. For now, he’s working Self’s camp and preparing to take a sports psychology class in the first session of summer school.

“Taking the class will help me get mentally stronger for the sport I’m in and also build my confidence up,” Robinson said.

His family will be there if needed. His mom said Sunday night she plans to talk to her son once in the morning and again late at night.

“To say prayers together,” Lisa said of the pre-bed conversation. “It’s sad he had to leave home. I miss him, but I’m more happy for him. He’s happy. He’s excited. He’s where he wants to be.”

The family will have an official party for Thomas and other Robinson relatives in a month or so.

“We’ll have a big cookout, one more family get-together for Thomas and some nieces and nephews going to school, too. Everybody’s proud of them,” Lisa said.


jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago

Stories like this one are good, because they remind us that players are human beings, not just performers, and that the step to college is as large for them as it was for us.

Coming to a university to live is daunting. New acquaintances, new place, new authority figures, new expectations, and a new level of competition in the classroom and on the court are a wallop of change.

One thing that seems strikingly different today than thirty years ago, if TR is at all common, is thirty years ago no one called their parents morning and evening. In fact, the thrill of going to college in my time was not having to report to mom and dad.

Another striking difference is starting school in June with a summer school class rather than going through the right of passage of country club week--the week of no classes and of getting enrolled and of unbridled carousing. Is it still a right of passage each year, or has country club week long ceased to be observed? I hope it still exists. And I hope TR gets to have some fun with it come late August. But I just don't know how it could be quite as thrilling that first time, if you have already been in town and in school for a couple months.

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago

On the other hand, Lawrence in summer time was then, anyway, pretty magical in a sleepy sort of way, too. Everyone, teachers, students and towns persons, let their hair down. Summertime in Lawrence almost felt like the clock turned back to the time of William Inge. There was time to do nothing, to walk slowly through the heat, and mix with persons one never met during the school year in a mutual attempt to manage the heat and find air conditioning, or a pool, or to get to a lake to water ski. And the evenings were always glorious in their temperate, quiet relief. The cicada whirred and at the right times the fireflies put on shows and the Fourth of July came and went like a tipping point between high humidity of June and then the scorchers in July and August. And of course there were the unexpected road trips to no where just to see where you might end up and the nothing-else-to-do runs for barbeque. And some pick-up games and at least one summer romance, even if only a long week-ends worth. And the talk with a friend over an ice cold beer about where you were going to move to when you finally graduated. Enjoy it all Thomas Robinson, enjoy it all. You will make more money. You will have more things. You will feel less transcient some day. But you will never feel the exquisite sense of sheltered, innocent, leisure and gentlely aimless amiability again that you will feel in Lawrence, Kansas, in summer school. Summer in Lawrence always starts with a long list of things that need to get done that after awhile do not get done and afterwhile one realizes no one cares that they are not going to get done. Oh, and TR, lay down once on the grassy hillside above Potters Lake and at dusk and do absolutely nothing for me, will ya? Tahiti is good. Burgundy and Biarritz have their place places. The Mer du Glace chased with a raclette apre ski and a run to Rapallo to wade in the Mediterranean are cool. But a half hour nap when you're 19 laying on the grass above Potter's Lake at twi-light with your head resting on a back pack, and waking up, when no one knows or cares where the hell you are and when you are supposed to be somewhere else doing something else for someone you'd rather you didn't have to do it for, man, that is a moment that will carry you through a lot for the rest of your life.

Rock chalk, Thomas, rock chalk.

waywardJay 12 years, 7 months ago

This guy will be a lottery pick in 3 years or less if he keeps this attitude. This is the key cog in this years team, because it forces the morris' brtohers to wokr that much harder because their is this kind of talent,work ethic, and discipline behind them.

This is Bill Self's kind of basketball player and i think w are going to see a rather large impact from him in the coming months.

We're glad to have you Thomas, welcome to family.

Tony Bandle 12 years, 7 months ago

Jaybate......I'm right there with you. Part of being in a scholarship hall was that we had to come in in early August to get the place ready for the new year.[This was in the days when the semester started the Tuesday after Labor Day.]

Lawrence was truly the sleepy little country town in those days..and it was a joy of a contrast coming from a metropolitan area like St.Louis. Country Club week was indeed a tradition that I too hope has not gone by the wayside.

I have been on the Thomas Robinson bandwagon from day one. I feel that Xavier will provide the wing we need but Thomas will provide the " 'tude". Robinson has what I've always said makes a great athlete, the Triple A's....Athleticism, Attitude and Attack Mode.

Marcus, Markieff and Mario will have to step it up..or else!!!!

Thomas.....welcome to the Cradle of Basketball and Jayhawk Nation.

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 7 months ago

That was beautiful Jaybate! (Wasn't that from "Andy Hardy goe to KU")

I'd just like to second what his familty has told him..."don't do anything stupid and stay out of trouble!"

Thomas, after following Jaybate's suggestions, do two things for me now. Lie in the grass in front of Allen Fieldhouse staring up at that building and then take a private tour through the Booth "museum" at the main entrance of AFH. You probably will never get another chance to soak in the aroma of what KU should mean to an athlete than to experience this treasure NOW. This is your new family album. Your next truly, moving experience will be Late Night in the Phog when you are first announced and get to run out onto the floor for the first time in front of your new family unit of more than 16000 anxious and appreciative fans. On November 17, in St. Louis, you'll know for sure why your choice of KU over Memphis was the only right thing to do,. Both schools are an equal distance from St. Louis. But, you'll feel the difference in that building between the fans, regardless of the coaching changes and loss of their players.


AsadZ 12 years, 7 months ago

I am trying to buy tickets for Temple game. Anyone knows as to best way going about getting these and when will tickets go on sale? Thanks

Jonathan Allison 12 years, 7 months ago

The summer I stayed in Lawrence was the best summer of my life. It was the first and possibly only time I ever felt that I was in absolute control of my life. Imagine what it would be like to have your own island in the caribbean, and somehow that's like summer school in Lawrence. I was actually taking classes at JCCC, because KU wasn't offering differential equations that summer. So I took Diff Eq and Intro to Fiction, but mostly I just did whatever I wanted. It involved a lot of laying in the grass, laying on park benches, sitting in the shade, daydreaming. It was magical.

KU1992 12 years, 7 months ago

I had a dream last night that Late night wouldn't be at the field house due to about scary!

Joel Hood 12 years, 7 months ago

Several years ago, the University began Hawk Week before the fall semester. There are several activities for the students to attend with no alcohol. I believe that KU Student Success coordinates the events. This was to counter the unbridled partying that we all enjoyed 20+ years ago. Somehow the kids today still remember how to drink - a lot. The term Country Club week is now part of campus mythology.

Great story about TR and how Cole is stepping up to help make the team a family.

Thomas Michaud 12 years, 7 months ago

I changed majors so many times, I had to go to summer school three years - loved my History of Mexico class! I so wish I could move back there ...

@memhawk - yes, good quote to re-post. Was thinking the same thing. But it sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and sounds like the other players are keeping him busy and part of the family.

Just don't want to hear anything about being too homesick and wanting to transfer back to be closer to family. So make sure - everyone who's there in Lawrence - to keep him busy and feel at home!

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


Yes, my real name is Judge Hardy! But don't tell Andy that Judy and I have a little May/December thing going on!! :-)

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


Had I to do it again, I would have only scheduled classes during summerschool and taken 30 years to graduate. I could have worked a part time job, found a room up on Ohio Street somewhere and had cheap KU basketball tickets for 30 years. What could have been better?

Appoggiatura 12 years, 7 months ago

Never mind Thomas Robinson, Jaybate, that was beautiful. Makes me really miss summers in Lawrence. It really is a different feel. Peaceful in its tranquility.

Steve Gantz 12 years, 7 months ago

Another slow news day I guess. A kid moves to Lawrence becomes a news story? Why write something when there's really nothing to write about?

Joe Baker 12 years, 7 months ago

Take it all in Thomas and up and enjoy! Lawrence is one of the best college towns in America. It only gets better with time. We are all excited about having you and the "family" atmosphere is no cliche'. You are truly part of a huge campus family!!

Welcome to KU!


Marcia Parsons 12 years, 7 months ago

Wow, wissoxfan83. Do you hate KU basketball? Live in Missouri? I've been hoping to find out more about the new players as individuals, not just basketball players. Aren't you interested? Give the rest of us a break. I'd enjoy reading a story like this about each of the new players.

KUFan90 12 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the memories Jaybate. That was awesome. Only thing you left off was road trips to Missouri on Sundays to buy beer since you couldn't in KS (about the ONLY reason to make Missouri a destination).

Rick Arnoldy 12 years, 7 months ago

Geez, wissox, are you serious? It’s a feature story. Did you really expect to read box scores here in June? I like learning something about the players off the court. Great article, Gary.

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


Here's a tidbit basketball substance for you. Though Robinson is widely referred to as strong and aggressive rebounder and defender on the floor, I could not help but notice that TR's forearms look pretty slender. Perhaps OakvilleJHawk, who seems to pretty knowledgeable about TR can tell us if Thomas is a ready for D1 physical specimen coming in, or is he a year away as are so many freshman bigs?

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


Ah, yes, the Stateline Run coupled with occassional desperate detours to Jimmy's Jigger near KU MED to try to pick up one of those older women--er, uh, medical or nursing students. Sheesh! Those nursing and medical students would now seem positively wet behind the ears from the end of the pipeline I'm staring through now! Or was the Jigger closed on Sundays, and it was Kelly's Bar we went to? Gore Vidal was not the only one to experience his past as a palimpsest.

waywardJay 12 years, 7 months ago


His arms to look kinda skinny, but i expect hudy to work her magic there.... If she can get Tyrel lifting .... then she can get this kid lifting...... remember the skinny arms now and look at the progress by november..... that will tell you how far this kids ceiling is....

there is a REASON calipari wanted him ( aren't we glad he didn't get pair... i mean chosen for Memphis.....errrr... Kentucky )

tdub 12 years, 7 months ago


My thoughts exactly about the Morris twins. Anything to get them motivated.

Joe Baker 12 years, 7 months ago

“He’s going to be really good. He’s really quick, has unbelievable bounce, has good post moves. He’s really strong,” said Aldrich, who will be a big brother of sorts to Robinson in coming days.

Cole looked pretty lanky his freshman year! This says a lot coming from Cole!!

TR also mentioned 3-4 mos ago that he would be hitting the weightroom to prepare for the physical B12 games. He understands the significance of strength. He'll be ready.

waywardJay 12 years, 7 months ago

tdub... why do you think they are hitting the weights so hard right nowl.... T rob might end up meaning what R Rob meant for u a couple years ago..... guy who makes everything work..... granted he cannot pass the ball or drive and penetrate.... but if he can get our 2-3-4 post players playing their max 80 percent of the time just by working harder than them..... SO be It....

end result... morris's are hitting teh weights ( im sure robinson is close to follow ) which means more physical team coming.... this is a great sign

Steve Gantz 12 years, 7 months ago

Boy it's funny how you post a comment on a lame article and all of the sudden you're a Missouri fan.
Oldalum (I'm one too!) wrote "I've been hoping to find out more about the new players as individuals, not just basketball players." Unless these guys are total losers off the court, I really don't care too much that their individual lives. Like I said, a slow news day I guess, just my opinion!

Tony Bandle 12 years, 7 months ago

Jaybate...good observation but the three things with TR is that:

1] His hands are tremendously strong and large.

2] He has incredible spring in his legs.

3] He is blessed with an almost "Rodman" type of internal radar that can track the trajectory and path of a shot almost coming out of the shooters hand. It is only high school but I have seen video of him hustling to a spot on the opposite side of the hoop for a rebound, well before any normal human should have an idea.

He doesn't block out...he is just there!!!! The only way to grab a rebound from him is to go THROUGH him!!! I hope he's a good foul shooter because I think as time goes by he's going to get lots of opportuniites.

His offense needs some work but I can't wait to see what Danny's coaching and Cole's scrimmaging will do for this kid. The ceiling is out of sight on this young man's potential.

The paint is going to eventually become "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood"!!!

Joe Baker 12 years, 7 months ago

OakvilleJHawk- The paint is going to eventually become "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood"!!!

I like that...

Scott Lippoldt 12 years, 7 months ago


No one's forcing you to read!

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 7 months ago

imnotpaulpierce -

Oh no you di-unt!

We've all used the Evelyn Woods technique on some of his novels. But when it comes to passion and honesty, few rival Mr.Jaybate.

And your user name, you couldn't even wring out the sweat from Paul Pierce's headband! You definitley will never be mistaken for anybody remotely as talented as PP. Nor, could you come close to the prose and literary skills of a Jaybate.

Maybe you should take your own advice and stFu!

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago

Things I Do Not Regret I Am Not Today:

I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's hampster. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's mental or physical masturbation instructor. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's thorzine injectionist. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's prison steady. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's Berlitz English teacher. I do not regret I am not imnotpaulpierce's future.

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


A Dennis Rodman? Oh, my, that would be manna from heaven! And he seems like a good guy, too.

FlaHawk 12 years, 7 months ago

I would have thought that going to a prep school in NH would be a real learning experience coming froma Public HS in DC (which Public HS?)! NH is much more different than DC than Lawrence would be. There is no urban area in NH and literally no black people.. Lawrence and Kansas are literally a Forrest of black people compare to NH.

I think it is great that he has strong family ties. I see him as a more mature (physically and mentall than Quntell Thomas last year. The year of prep schoolwill make him a year advanced on Q.

A year of backing Cole will do wonders for his ability in 2010-2011, when Cole will be in the NBA with Sheerron.


FairgroveJayhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

Thomas Robinson - You are going to have a great summer. The scenery is spectacular, just wait until fall semester starts up. It's unreal.

I enjoyed reading his mother's comments - they were nice. It sounds like he comes from a close knit group which he will find at KU as well.

Great article. I enjoy reading about the new guys and where they're from.

gthejayhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

Jaybate, What a wonderful synopsis of what summer consists of for a college student in Lawrence. I absolutely cherish the college years in Lawrence, including two stints in the summer. One piece of advice Mr. Robinson, the memories you will have of your time at KU will be some of, if not THE best memories of your young adult life. From experience, please take a moment or two every now and again to simply sit back and smell the roses.

Dan Pawlowski 12 years, 7 months ago

wissoxfan83, A whitesox fan being negative, that is original. Go back to your tweaking and beating up on 1st base coaches...

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 7 months ago

If that is a regulation size ball that TR is signing in the photo at the top of this article, we're in for some amazing defensive play this season.

Between him, Cole and Jeff, foul trouble won't phase us down low like it has in the recent past. More blows for all the bigs is a good thing too.

Somehow, though, I bet that ball is just one for autographs and his hands aren't as huge as it appears. Maybe it's just hand envy! Speaking of which, Jaybate, loved your Seuss-esque rebuttal (reference #3).

Gary Bedore - More, more, more! Ignore that imbecile, imnotpaulpierce.

emillasap 12 years, 7 months ago


I always knew your true wheelhouse was the esoteric.

That was a GREAT read.

Well done.

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 7 months ago

Sorry imnotpaulpierce, I meant to tell Gary to ignore wissoxfan83. Actually, he should ignore you too come to think of it.

Steve Gantz 12 years, 7 months ago

Come on Boulderhawk, that wasn't me that beat up the 1st base coach, it was another Sox fan some guy named Blagoyovich.

waywardJay 12 years, 7 months ago


everyone had memphis on their last after the title game... not sure he was ever that big on them...... pretty sure he saw darnell jackson and said.... That's looks alot like what i can do.... that's the place for me

Joe Baker 12 years, 7 months ago

I've always been impressed with this kid's intelligence and maturity. He is rooming with EJ. They all seem like real good guys that will reflect well on KU, not to mention their talents on the court. The article with Tyshawn giving up his jersey number to EJ and wearing #10 is already a good sign they will gel as a team. Dang I'm excited to see this team and the special touch they will bring to college b-ball !!

If you have any questions about TR's offense, this kid has a nice outside shot that will keep defenses honest. He will pull some bigs out of the paint and his dribble is not too bad either. Self will be probably keep him in the paint, unless he has a wide open trey.

This is going to be exciting with the inside outside game!!!

Sally Presson 12 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to KU Thomas. I know how difficult it was to leave your Mom, but hang in there, you will be so glad you're in Lawrence and going to KU. There's nothing like it in the world.

aerohawk 12 years, 7 months ago

jaybate, you crack me up. I look forward to reading your posts every time I am on here.

jhawks 12 years, 7 months ago

"Don’t do anything stupid. Stay out of trouble. Keep working hard,’’...

Good advice! Pass that around a few times Thomas.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.