Originally published June 26, 2012 at 11:57p.m., updated June 27, 2012 at 09:08a.m.

Path to success: Former Jayhawk Russell Robinson shares advice with Naadir Tharpe

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe raises up the Fieldhouse during a run by the Jayhawks against Fort Hays State during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe raises up the Fieldhouse during a run by the Jayhawks against Fort Hays State during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Last week, when former Jayhawk point guard Russell Robinson got his first up-close look at current Kansas University sophomore Naadir Tharpe, he liked what he saw.

“I think he has enough talent to get some minutes on this team,” said Robinson, the starting point guard on KU’s 2008 national championship team. “You know, Tyshawn (Taylor) was ahead of him last year and that’s tough, but I think Naadir is a better point guard at that stage than I was.”

That’s not the only time these two have been compared.

During Robinson’s first year in Lawrence, he played sparingly and contemplated leaving KU at the end of his freshman season. He didn’t, of course, and wound up starting for the next three seasons and walking away with a national-championship ring.

During Robinson’s tough time, he got a lift from former teammate Aaron Miles, who simply reassured the New York native that he was a good player and that things would work out as long as he put in the time. Robinson said he tried to give similar advice to Tharpe.

“(I just tried) to set some knowledge on him,” Robinson said. “The fact that he was supporting his team (last season) means his mind is still into it. I think he’ll have an opportunity to play this year and I think he’ll make the most of it.”

Like Robinson, Tharpe, who hails from hoops factory Brewster (N.H.) Academy, logged fewer minutes (5.5 per game) than he would have liked during his freshman season and often found it tough to adjust from being a starting high school point guard to a spot role player in college. But also like Robinson, Tharpe chose to remain at KU and currently is in the midst of an offseason designed to overhaul his game.

“Coach told me that he’s going to need more out of me,” Tharpe said. “And I know I need more out of myself. It’s definitely motivating. Last year I didn’t really get to play as much as I wanted to, but I had to look at myself in the mirror and see how much I really wanted to do this and I’m just working hard every day to try to get on that court.”

Asked what area of his game he had focused on the most, Tharpe said he had done a lot of lower-body work but that he was not emphasizing one thing more than another.

“Just all around,” he said. “I need to work on everything. I really didn’t do anything spectacular last year at all, so I still need to work on everything.”

Hard work is not something from which Tharpe shies away. As a young player, at age 10, he found himself buried on the bench of his youth all-star team and responded by working hard enough in the offseason to become a starter the following year. Tharpe has that same mindset this summer and is looking forward to watching it pay off.

“From the things I’ve heard, all of the years they had a stacked team here there were a lot of great players but some of them didn’t get a chance to play right away and, you know, they had to keep working hard,” Tharpe said. “Like coach said about Russ, his first year he didn’t play, his next three years he started. So, it shows from the past. You’re not just going to be able to come here and think you’re gonna just be able to play. You have to know the system and you have to work hard. That’s the only way you’ll be able to get on the floor.”


Jeeveshawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Naadir Tharpe will not have his huge breakout until 2013-2014, when he stops playing behind Elijah.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Jaybate, Good point about the unflappable B.Rush. But Rush's teammates report he somehow had endless stamina from Day 1. What makes Self players nearly die is bootcamp and the climbing-steps-punishment motivation (Withey)...none of that fazed Rush, as he is some kind of stamina-freak. The infamous exercise-bike was used on Rush, and they said he just effortlessly ate that up. Never saw the guy get a scowl in a game in 3 years--including when Antonio Anderson clearly undercut him as he was going for a dunk, which he missed, which could have been ridiculously prophetic, but thankfully it all worked out.

Ive never completely figured out B.Rush. He did almost everything Self asked (other than becoming a personality-change aggression-player), yet continued to move to his own beat. Apparently he has gotten alot more aggressive with Golden State Warriors...'11-12 his best statistical year. He will stick in the NBA with that athleticism, defense, and bigtime treygun.


REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Brace up, Naadir, and find some heatproof inserts for your tennies. You are on the verge of lunging from a cattleprod to race through fire! This will be the determining season to unearth your essential value to current and future Jayhawk squads. To date, I admire your demeanor; and I wish for you a season of splendid growth and development.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I like the tough-ass Russ Rob giving Tharpe words of wisdom. RussRob came around to Self's way the hard way. People forget or dont know the story, but Russell had a major issue with Self his frosh season in practice. Apparently Self's midwestern choice of words when he called-out Russell is not what that phrase means in New York, NY, and shortly, Russell, who had pulled off his shirt and was trying to go at Self physically had to be pulled away by his teammates. Self taught Russell to channel his toughness and his final 2yrs at KU, Russell Robinson became the epitome of a tough Self combo guard (along with Mario, Tyshawn, Sherron, and the 2 guys Self had at Illinois).

Russell is the one to teach patience, as here he arrived at KU as a 20's-ranked overall guard, and had a 20+ppg scoring avg in highschool, yet he was asked to largely sacrifice his offensive numbers to make the team shine. One can say that move cost him a shot at the NBA, by not putting up the numbers that turn heads, while he was busy "creating" 4 guys in double figures on a nightly basis and being responsible for running a very efficient, high defense, low turnover monster that took the natl championship...

Self made the right move for the team, but now that Russell has rediscovered his offense, and now also has a pro-range 3, I still hope he can land an NBA team (as that is what he says he wants.) Clearly he is earning six-figures yearly overseas, as we learned several mos ago. Just needs the right team & opportunity...


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

Self is going to have to crack Naadir wide open this season psychologically before this potentially wonderful, but still too heady player can learn to get up on the razor's edge he needs to be on in order to survive in D1.

Naadir is about to be put through the next level of the toughening box.

Last season's button pushing was just a little tenderizing.

By December, or January, we are going to see Naadir turned into a fanatical razor blade in tennis shoes, or he is not going to know whether to defecate, or stand up. its going to get psychologically ugly, as it did with EJ, Tyshawn, Russell, Mario, and KLang before it gets pretty.

And the terror of it is that it might never get pretty.

Some one can break under it.

Naadir wrongly thinks sitting on the bench is the worst thing that can happen.


The toughening box for three quarters of a season while being asked to man-up and perform, while watching ones minutes yo-yo up and down is the toughest thing that can happen to a KU player.

Not playing a season is just a wake up call.

Now the SEAL training commences.

Why can Mario Chalmers play so well despite taking the shizz of the three prima donnas in South Beach? Because Mario got to the point that his even mail was being sent to the toughening box. Mario got to the point that he wanted to fight Self on the sidelines and then Self pushed his buttons way beyond that. Mario Chalmers came out of KU a Wilkinson Sword Blade. Tempered steel. He had been tormented by the Crimson and Blue King of Pain.

Naadir, it is now your turn.

Next April, you are going to be a very different basketball player, one way or another.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

"The Naadir File"

Naadir will be a ten minute man without a problem this year, but whether it is a pretty ten, or an ugly, painful ten, depends on his D.

Naadir's defense, not offense, has to improve the most for him to be the happy ten minute man behind The Prophet.

Hudy will amp his leg strength and he will be quicker, have fewer blow bys, and have the strength to turn and burn, when he is faked out.

But he still has those short stumps and the long waist that are always going to make him vulnerable on defense.

But Naadir is a potentially beautiful ball handler, passer and occasional shooter.

Naadir's biggest advantage this season is that Self is likely going to try like hell to get out of the two option offense and spread the scoring around with his starting five. Contrary to the recent statistical misreadings about EJ and Travis not being scorers, when healthy they are going to be serious scoring threats this season. Add BenMac and Andrew White on there perimeter, plus Jeff and Perry in the paint, and what Self needs when EJ is taking a blow is a guy who lets everyone score the treys and spreads it around amongst the bigs.

Naadir Tharpe is the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

If he can defend and protect, he is solid gold.

Tharpe's biggest problem is that Self has been spoiled defensively by the long and athletics.

Self has learned to eat up to 10 TOs per game at the point and still win, if his combo guards can sever heads, and watch bodies die, on defense.

Ben Mac, Andrew White and Milton Doyle are L&As and can be trained to shut off the oxygen, regardless of how many Pop Tarts the bake.

No matter how good defensively Naadir gets, he is not likely to be head severer and a body die-er on defense.

While it is 50/50 that Naadir will turn the corner, I am betting my piggy bank that he will.

Self brought Milton Doyle in precisely to light butane torch under Naadir, who remains too heady for his own good.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

fizzourischat squats again!

Go to an Ole Miss web site and clump their litter boxes. Those bubbas will hack the location tag in your post packets and come make you squeal like a pig!


mikehawk 1 year, 9 months ago

So interesting Mizzou people and Kentucky folks on our website. I would never consider going to their website for any reason. Maybe they just need something to read worth reading.


Sally Presson 1 year, 9 months ago

missouricat & hooper you are stupid, stay off the message board!!!

Every year there is always a Jayhawk that is near and dear to all of us. One of my all time favorites is Russell Robinson. On his senior night I cried the entire game just thinking about not seeing him in a Hawk uniform again. He's a great one and a good one for Naadir to listen to. Thanks Russell for giving him a pep talk, he'll do well this year.


hooper 1 year, 9 months ago

I am sure the Doc Sadler with help Tharpe as they both are losers. What is Self thinking when he hired Sadler, he is a loser as a coach, ask Nebraska. Course that's the way KU has been going, poor recruiting class, Tharpe, and now Sad Sack Sadler. No hope for KU. John, again has hit the big time with a great recruiting class,Noel (#1), Poythress (#3), Goodwin (#5) and Cauley (#11) again the top class in the nation. We expect that from Calipari the greastest coach in college basketball. Maybe Sad Sack can give Self some pointers on how to coach with his record.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Doesn't Kansas have some Biblical-like, point guard succession chain...Walters to Vaughn to Robertson to Boschee to Heinrich to Miles to Robinson to Taylor to Johnson eventually to Tharpe?

This coming season, the HAWK scrimmages will be bettter than half the games they play.

Jeff, Kevin, Elijah, BenMac, Travis, Doc, Justin, Danny's kid, Norm's kid


Jamari, Zach, Perry, Nadiir, 'Rio, Landon, A&W, Bill's kid, Christian


iamakufan 1 year, 9 months ago

I like what I've seen of Tharpe. The potential shows. I really, really like what I'm hearing from him through this article.


petey55 1 year, 9 months ago

FACT CHECK: Russel Robinson played at Rice High School in New York. He did not attend Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Thomas Robinson, like Tharpe, hails from Brewster Academy. "Like Robinson, Tharpe, who hails from hoops factory Brewster (N.H.) Academy..."


midwest_muser 1 year, 9 months ago

No Jayhawk fan hopes Tharpe will fail. There are a few who wonder if he can succeed. While he has physical gifts, there were no examples of on court composure or insight in the minutes he played last season. None. As to the comparisons to the Morris twins and the mentions of his similarities there. That IS something many fans are hoping fails. The end of the Morris era and death of its culture is a very positive thing.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm glad he doesn't have to be our starting PG this season (EJ is going to be awesome!) but I'm also glad he'll be getting good minutes as the first back-up PG. I figure he should play every game and average around 10-12 minutes/game.

Hopefully his A/TO ratio is good and his defense solid. Then he should be ready to start the following year, but if not I'm sure somebody will be breathing down his neck to do so.


LAJayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

"You’re not just going to be able to come here and think you’re gonna just be able to play."

Boom. Sold. In one sentence he showed why he's a Kansas point guard. He gets it. And that, in and of itself, is why he will be big for us in the near future. When you understand that one single concept, you get how hard you have to push yourself, and when you understand how hard you have to push yourself, you either do it or you give up.

He's here. He's doing it.

He's gonna be a winner. Put money on it.


up4par2000 1 year, 9 months ago

Any word, has Anrio arrived yet? Thought he mentioned his arrival around the 21st.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 9 months ago

Yet when I touch the button...I give up!


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 9 months ago

Nope, nope, I take that back. Just saw the link to the desktop site below!

Jesse Newell > Bill Gates

(still can't reply to individual post and can we do a dry run on the mobile Newell post before the season starts?)


chicagojayhawk87 1 year, 9 months ago

If you think about it Tharpe and Robinson are both similar, true point guards. I don't expect Tharpe to come in averaging 15 points a game, and no one ever expected Robinson too. Unlike Tyshawn, who if he didn't score like he did for us at the end of last season we might not have made it to the championship. Tharpe is fast. He's not the best shooter, but if he gets hot, and can control his game a little more, he will make some of the jumpers he bricked this last season. He just needs to learn how to control the tempo and play D. Self expects every player to be very good defensively, and knows how to get it out of the players who are willing to work hard. From the sound of it we've got a lot of scorers coming in. Tharpe just needs to play patient, straight-up good passing/defensive point guard and he can do some work.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 9 months ago

Tharpe's freshman year > ljw mobile version


JJHawq 1 year, 9 months ago

I dont know the kid - but have followed him on twitter since we signed him. He has a TRob/Morris Twins type personality on twitter. Lots of tweets about FOE and hard work. I think he'll be a very good player for us and actually got into some debates on here defending him last year...


Commenting has been disabled for this item.