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.”


JJHawq 8 years, 4 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...

Jesse Newell 8 years, 4 months ago

We're still working on some issues with the mobile site. Hopefully, we'll have everything resolved soon.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Just about anything > constant whining and complaining.

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

shhhh, or you'll brink out the kansas university bashers

Swamphawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Just get the dolphin browser and in the setting change the user agent to desktop. That way all sites think that you are on a desktop not a smartphone. I'm not sure why anyone wants to go to a mobile version anymore, they are just generally harder to find what you want.

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

I did that years ago and love it... no more mobile versions for me.

chicagojayhawk87 8 years, 4 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.

Alohahawk 8 years, 4 months ago

I doubt there are any Jayhawk fans who don't want to see Tharpe succeed. Especially with KU's need for a good backup PG next season. I've liked Tharpe's attitude and the team support that he's shown since day one. The fact that a previous player, who was in a similar situation and probably even exceeded Coach Self's lofty expectations, is supportive and helping Tharpe deal with any frustrations he may have, shows how team/family/FOE permeates each and every one of Coach Self's teams, year in and year out. If Tharpe can take care of the ball (not turn it over as he did his freshman year) and play heads up defense, he'll receive his share of minutes. Scoring points shouldn't be Tharpe's primary concern. Any point production will be a bonus.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

At least some thought of RussRob as a SG. (;_ylt=AmFa6jf3r5lstFpimqbkNQHVO5B4) He became a PG out of necessity the next year when Mario underwhelmed everybody to start - especially the Maui tourney.

jhox 8 years, 4 months ago

Tharpe has a good looking shot. Much better than Russell, or Tyshawn at that stage in their development (and probably better than either of those guys by their Senior years even. If he wants to play more the solution is simple. Take care of the basketball. Everytime Self gave him a chance last year he would come in and turn the ball over the first or second time he touched the ball. I do think more playing time will help him to get over that. There is no substitute for game experience. When Tyshawn was out early last year, and Tharpe had to play more minutes, he did pretty well (other than the first half of that first game.) Sometimes guys just need to be allowed to play through a few mistakes in order to develop, and last year we didn't have a lot of blow out games where he could get a chance to play through mistakes. He was on a very, very short leash.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 4 months ago

I think you identifed a major difference .. Tharpe's shot is softer and more consistent than both those players as freshmen. And your simple solution appears to me to be the solution as well: Take care of the ball.

Many have harped on the fact that Self doesn't seem to permit players to play through mistakes -- with one exception: Tyshawn Taylor. Compare that to EJ's leash before last season, or Releford's (also before last season).

There is nothing like full speed, under pressure, game experience.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

I cannot help but agree that there are many similarities and most importantly the willingness to work hard. But I don't think Tharpe has the same talent that transformed Russell Rob into a starting role his sophomore year after playing off the bench his freshman year.

But I've been wrong more than once underestimating HCBS abilities to get the most from his players.

And hope to be wrong again.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 4 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?)

DoctorTK 8 years, 4 months ago

What wonderful assets our former players are to our beloved basketball program and its current players at Kansas University! ;)

Thank you, ahperse, for keeping the programmers on their toes.

I have computers all around me, but I most often read this site when I'm in bed or on the coach relaxing. My tablet or my phone are my computers of choice. The inability to go from the mobile version to the desktop version consistently has been very annoying. I appreciate ahperse's effort (and taking heat for it) to keep pushing the issue for the greater good.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 4 months ago

Doc, I know what you meant, but your phrase "on the coach relaxing" made me chuckle a little.

Kevin John 8 years, 4 months ago

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

Eric Dawson 8 years, 4 months ago

July 1st was the latest I've seen on his ETA.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 4 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.

waywardJay 8 years, 4 months ago

Nailed it. Give us your Starving, Eager to work Point guards and we'll give you Winners.

Brak 8 years, 4 months ago

Yea because Family Over Everything is a bad mantra to live by, and playing hard nosed basketball with a chip on your shoulder is no good, and staying 3 years and working your but off in the training room will only fail you. Bring on the soft selfish players who are only here for themselves, nice call dude. You really think last years team made it to the finals without a lot of FOE.

REHawk 8 years, 4 months ago

I saw a different Naadir Tharpe than did you. There were glimmers of greatness in some of his minutes on the court, IMHO. If he has learned better ball protection, and if he reverts back to his heralded pass-first point guard reputation, then he should provide an energetic change-up to the style of EJ, who will probably play more in the TT style. Naadir should benefit from summertime play and advice from Aaron and Russell. He could be a key ingredient to team success this season, more so if EJ's knee is slow to recover. Considering the height advantage of most Jayhawk starters this year, Tharpe's own height limitations should be somewhat canceled. I envision his lofting some skyhigh lobs to Jeff Withey!

RJ King 8 years, 4 months ago

Agree. We saw so little of Tharpe last year, we're all just speculating on what a season and a summer can do for his game. His body language on the bench suggested he was attentive, focused and positive.

I agree also with your Morri reference, and think it's been misunderstood. FOE had two distinct personalities:

One is the concept that basketball alone cannot nurture the mind and soul. It is saying that the team concept extends in many directions. It's the message we hear again and again in senior night speeches. That teammates, coaches, and fans are there for each other. Examples: the team flying to Washington to attend the service. Former players coming back to help out. Lots more.

The second personality was the dark side of FOE. This was established by the Morri. It seemed based on an "us against the world" mentality, or a strength in numbers concept. This made sense, since - as twins - they always had each other's back. This is the FOE that resulted in elbows thrown, bb guns, and ugly, incite-full smack talk before the VCU game.

Like you midwest, I found the Morri teams among the least likeable. Last year we could breathe the fresh air again. And yes, the Morri stayed for 3 years. Where else would they have gone?

FOE evolved as Jeckell and Hyde. It was time to destroy the monster.

Kurt Eskilson 8 years, 4 months ago

Once Again: It was an Airsoft gun. Airsoft gun = little rubber pellets = no real danger. BB gun = .17 cal. metal shot = loss of an eye. Huge difference. Please get this right!

petey55 8 years, 4 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..."

David Lara 8 years, 4 months ago

Speaking of FACT CHECK: you misread:

"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..."

Therefore Tharpe is the one who, "Like Robinson," "logged fewer minutes..." not Robinson.

Steve Reigle 8 years, 4 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.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 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

Ryan Michael 8 years, 4 months ago

You left out Sherron... I had some issues with him and his decision making, and I thought he played outside of traditional KU team first basketball... But I understand some of it was out of necessity etc.

Either way, he deserves to be on that list between Robinson/Taylor.

Curtis Stutz 8 years, 4 months ago

It is interesting to leave out Sherron on the list 'cause I had wanted Chalmers to stay another year and thought it would have been great for TT's growth to have a similarly gifted, long PG to learn from. Also I think we have to go with Adonis Jordan rather than Rex as the PG. Of course Vaughn never got to play with either of those 2. It's been a pretty unbelievable string of PG's able to learn from a former starting PG. Hopefully 'Rio and Doc also learn a great deal from EJ and Tharpe.

Sally Presson 8 years, 4 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.

mikehawk 8 years, 4 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.

jaybate 8 years, 4 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!

jaybate 8 years, 4 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 8 years, 4 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 8 years, 4 months ago

I do too, but I doubt that there is any path to the kind of mental toughness of KLang, RR, Mario, Tyshawn and EJ that does not involve an extended encounter with Self in the toughening box.

And just so we don't think this is a color thing, Brady and Tyrell took their turns.

Anyone Self is going to depend on gets it sooner or later.

But I don't know if I have ever seen anyone put through more, and longer, than Mario, Tyshawn and EJ. Each one of these guys very nearly broke.

The only guy that seemed to be beyond Self's ability to turn completely inside out was the King of the KU Kool Jazz Quintent--Brandon Rush. Brandon must have been hardened by his older brothers and mother, or something. For better, or worse, Brandon never let Self totally get him.

REHawk 8 years, 4 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.

jaybate 8 years, 4 months ago

The old coach puts sugar on the prod and never loses sight of the goal of goodness. No wonder Darnell was so good so fast.

RJ King 8 years, 4 months ago

The other day, the Golden State Warriors extended a qualifying offer to Rush, making him a restricted free agent..Brandon averaged nearly 10pts in 26 min and ranked sixth in the NBA in three-point percentage. Finally a good trade for the Warriors - they gave up Lou (who?) Amundson.

The Warriors can match any offer sheet that he signs with another team this offseason. I hope he stays so I can see more BR.

Jeeveshawk 8 years, 4 months ago

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

REHawk 8 years, 4 months ago

If Naadir is to set himself up for a huge breakout in 2013-14, he had best establish some strong showings this season. He will have Adams, Doyle and Frankamp breathing over his shoulder in 15 months,

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