Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor await NBA call

Former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson puts his hand in a break with children during the NBA Fit event near Harlem, New York, on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.

Former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson puts his hand in a break with children during the NBA Fit event near Harlem, New York, on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.


— Tuesday night, a little less than two days before the suits and smiles of the NBA Draft take the place of the more familiar high tops and high-fives, former Kansas University standouts Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor met up for one more game of basketball.

This one, unlike the previous 113 they played together as teammates at Kansas, was a one-on-one battle on the blacktop of New Jersey, and it came a stone’s throw from the neighborhood in which Taylor first began to dream his NBA dream.

“It was cool,” said Robinson, who is expected to be selected in the top five of tonight’s NBA Draft in Newark, N.J. “We always talked when we were in school that he would come to my neighborhood and I’d come to his. We grew up in similar areas, so I felt comfortable. It wasn’t anything I’m not used to.”

Except that it was.

After catching up, checking out the court and admitting their nerves, something unusual occurred.

“We were just on the court messing around and then I took my hat off and he took his hat off,” said Robinson, setting the scene. “Then we started shooting some more, and then I took my phone out, he took his phone out. Then I took my chain off, he took his chain off. And the next thing I knew we were out there playing against each other, sweating.”

On paper, the game was a mismatch both ways. Robinson’s 6-foot-9, 245-pound frame and 7-foot-3-inch wingspan no doubt posed a problem for the 6-3, 185-pound Taylor, whose lightning-quick first step and superior handles likely made him a nightmare for Robinson, as well.

On this night, Taylor’s quicks prevailed.

“Ty won,” Robinson said. “He had his whole neighborhood around, though. It was the homecourt advantage.”

In many ways the impromptu one-on-one showdown was exactly what these guys needed during one of the more hectic, yet exciting, times of their lives. From the time they were young until just a couple of months ago, both almost always had been in control when it came to basketball. But all of the glitz, glamour and uncertainty that comes with the NBA Draft puts control out of their reach. Their stats are in, careers are closed and individual workouts finished. Now all they can do is wait.

“It’s gonna be a very, very long process,” Robinson admitted. “I probably won’t be there long. Who knows, though. I’m sure I’m still gonna be nervous.”

In some ways, Robinson is envious of Taylor’s position. Instead of sitting in the green room with the lights, cameras and cheers surrounding him, Taylor, who could be picked anywhere from late in the first round to sometime in the middle of the second, will hear his name called via television, surrounded by as many friends and family members as he can cram into a New Jersey living room.

“It’s more comfortable for him because it’s here, local, where his family is originally from,” Taylor’s mother, Jeanell Taylor, said. “It gives him an opportunity to be with his entire family and I think that means a lot to him. He’s actually more nervous than anything. Going to (Madison Square) Garden and playing Kentucky and things like

that are totally different from him having to sit there and wait for the teams to call his name.”

Added Robinson: “He gets the real, 100 percent feeling of how it’s supposed to go. And I honestly think that’s one of the best ways to go through it. Once you get your name called, it’s probably a better feeling or a relief because you really don’t know.”

The friends and family members here provide comfort for both Robinson and Taylor. KU coach Bill Self and former KU assistant Danny Manning did not make the trip. But Robinson will be joined at the table in the green room by his nine-year-old sister, Jayla and her father, his best friend from childhood, his AAU coach and Angel Morris, the mother of Markieff and Marcus Morris who has filled a huge void in Robinson’s life since the day his mother, Lisa, passed away in early 2011. The Morris twins also made the trek to the Big Apple and will be at the draft, as well.

However, beyond the support of their families, the one thing that makes these two former Jayhawks feel so comfortable with so much on the line is the location where it all will take place.

“Just to be anywhere in the tri-state area is great,” said Robinson, a native of Washington D.C. “You’re not from here, so you’re not a hometown hero, but when you’re from the East Coast and you go to a school like Kansas, it’s kind of like everybody out here gets behind you. When I come back to New York or Jersey or places in the northeast, I feel a lot of love and it’s definitely good to be back.”

It’s not just the future NBA players who get a kick out of it. Taylor’s high school coach, Bob Hurley, said his former point guard’s return to the area was the perfect way to close out an amazing journey.

“For him to be coming back to Jersey to be drafted into the NBA is incredible,” said the legendary St. Anthony High coach. “We’ve been talking a lot about it. The guys he grew up with are all excited. The kids we have at St. Anthony’s now are all excited, and the coaches are all excited. It’s just absolutely great.”

Hurley won’t be with Taylor tonight, but he will be watching.

“I’ll be running home and jumping on the couch and sitting there holding my breath until it happens,” Hurley said. “We’re proud of him anyway, but it’ll be an even bigger moment because we know what the journey’s been like. With each kid, it’s different each time. And this one is just an incredibly special story for us. We’re so excited for him.”

As for Robinson, he said he believed the team that picked Taylor would be getting a steal and added that he would not begin his celebration until his close friend and former teammate can join him. “I told Ty I’m not making any moves until his name is called,” Robinson said.

Tonight’s draft begins at 6 p.m. and will take place at the Prudential Center for the second year in a row because of construction at Madison Square Garden.

What about Jayla?

Throughout the past year, Robinson has talked a lot about his sister and how all of the work he put in was for her future. On Wednesday, Robinson was asked how Jayla was handling the overwhelming scene that is the NBA Draft and he answered with one of his trademark smiles.

“I know what it’s like,” he said. “It’s great. Because right now she’s on 5th Avenue shopping. So she’s fine. And that feels great. That’s why I worked for it. So for her to see it actually happen will be a great feeling.”

Like Mike

If Robinson goes to Charlotte at No. 2 like some are predicting, he immediately will be employed by the man widely regarded as the

greatest basketball player of all-time, Bobcats’ owner Michael Jordan. When asked if he would be awestruck by the thought of playing for Jordan, Robinson made one key point.

“You’re playing for Mike, but you’re not playing with him,” Robinson said. “So it’s still up to me to get out there and work.”

T-Rob hearts Kansas

Without hesitation, Robinson needed just one word to describe what his three years in Lawrence meant to him.

“Everything,” he said. “The more I’m away from Kansas, the more I miss it and I start to remember things that I forgot I even did. Being at KU was special for me. I’ll definitely be back.”

What to wear?

One of the most scrutinized elements of the NBA Draft is the fashion sense — sometimes good, sometimes bad — that the players demonstrate.

Although Robinson did not divulge what he would be wearing when his name was called by NBA commissioner David Stern tonight, he did

clarify one thing.

“I’ve got an idea,” he said of his draft-night outfit. “Nothing too crazy. I don’t want them to talk about me.”

Speaking of Stern, the moment after Robinson hears his name called is something he has been looking forward to since the Jayhawks topped Baylor, 92-74, on Jan. 16 at Allen Fieldhouse. That was the night Robinson became convinced he would be one of the top picks in this

year’s draft. 
“I feel great,” Robinson said. “And I’m ready. I’ve worked for mine and I’ve been able to put all of the adversity behind me. Once I shake David Stern’s hand, I’ll feel like I did something.”


Jason Keller 1 year, 9 months ago

Tyshawn Taylor was STOLEN at 41 or whatever it was. Elite PG size, speed and athleticism. A proven winner. Played at a top 3 program and for top 3 coach. So, he tried to do to much at times, jesus. What else do you want in a backup PG?

What the heck was Sacramento thinking, they had a chance to line up T-Rob and Tyshawn. The two are clearly greater than their sums. Cousins, Robinson and Tyshawn would have been a solid step toward rebuilding the organization.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

Anywhere is better than Carolina, but Sacramento is a black hole.


Janet Olin 1 year, 9 months ago

Excluding a family emergency, I'm very disappointed that Coach Self didn't or couldn't attend.


1stnamemistermiddlenameperiod 1 year, 9 months ago

I was going to say I forgot someone, but someone beat me to it so...Damn, you're right! How the hell did I miss that?!?


1stnamemistermiddlenameperiod 1 year, 9 months ago

Jacque Vaughn nearly falls out of the first round. Aaron Miles, Russell Robinson, and Sherron Collins go undrafted. Is it Tyshawn Taylor's turn to be disrespected by NBA execs.

This just in...

I really hope this is true. This would be a great situation for Ty to get some quality pt while Rose is recovering.


Mike Nicco 1 year, 9 months ago

If I remember correctly, Tyshawn was the least heralded player on his high school team. It would be interesting to see what the others were ranked, were they went to college and what they are doing now.

Good luck tonight Gentlemen.


rwhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I would have liked to watch that 1-on-1 game...sniffle.


kufreak1512 1 year, 9 months ago

In this podcast Jay Bilas again talks about Allen Field House. Calls it the St. Andrews of basketball


RockChalk26 1 year, 9 months ago

Bill could not make the trip?

I'm sorry but if Kansas has a possible #2 pick overall, you get your butt to New York. This is great exposure for those who are thinking about attending Kansas University/University of Kansas. Come on Bill, get to New York, get in front of those cameras, give T-Rob a big huge, let recruits see your work as a player developer.


hawksince51 1 year, 9 months ago

T-Tob goes no. 2, TT goes late 1st round. With that the core, heart and soul of the 2011-12 team become multi-millionaires and I could not be happier for them. There are a lot of things about the NBA I do not care for, but giving boys from the hood a chance to achieve their dream is a good thing.


Andy Tweedy 1 year, 9 months ago

"The more I’m away from Kansas, the more I miss it"

AMEN! I feel the same way, t-rob! Good luck in the league...


Alohahawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Nice eulogy to Miss Summers, Jaybate. And don't overlook another recent loss - Miss Whitney Houston, who could also carry a tune pretty darn well. Imagine Whitney and Donna getting together for a gig together. I know every generation has it's own, but those you mentioned have withstood the test of time. They could all "Rock the Chalk" when they appeared on stage and screen.

As for Judy Garland, "Over the Rainbow" has to be one of the most memorable motion picture songs, and it almost got cut from one of the best movies of all time.


april28 1 year, 9 months ago

A great story to read first thing this morning. Warms my heart. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. We'll have two first-round picks by the end of the night and both of these young men are about to enjoy one of the most exciting days of their lives. Really, really good stuff.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

"Thursday Thankful I'm Not a Thiger and Other Thoughts"

•If I were a Thiger, I would have to listen to Thouthern drawls from now to forever to get my checks, miss out on being a central player in Big 12 Super Conference expansion, and still suffer state regime change at the coal fracking hands of the Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas Energy Junta down stream. Woe is Fizzouri.

• Because B12 Super Conference Expansion increasingly appears conditional on energy infrastructure expansion (I.e., schools selection significantly based on their capacity for receiving pork in states willing to support the Northeast Super Corridor extension up the Ohio Valley, the LNG link from Grand Bahamas to Miami and up the east coast, plus the LNG lateral from Miami to Texas), most B12 expansion probably hinges on Romney getting elected and will not commence until that is certain. BCS formats? Fuggedabout'em. Follow the right of ways.

• TRob is about to learn the hard part of his career is just starting.

• Self not attending TRob's coming out party seems conspicuous. What up coach? Busy with Euro prep, or a hot recruit on the line, or an interview?

• MiJor, please draft Harrison and let TRob go to an organization on the way up.

• TRob, you want them talking about you from here on out. With your body, wear a Speedo and have a diva on your arm! You will get a Speedo deal and a supporting role in the next Fast and Furious DC before the second round.

• Donna Summers died kids. A part of me died with her. She was the hottest singer ever, when she wanted to be--a Marilyn Monroe for the ears. No one understands what we had and lost, because like Monroe, she never really wanted to be as sexy and sensuous as she could be. When she opened herself up for the "Love to Love You" session she changed everything. If America ever grows up about sex and love, she will be elevated to the top. She was not a great technical singer like Ella Fitzgerald, or Lena Horne, or Doris Day, or Streisand, or an overwhelming voice like Aretha, Houston and Carey. Instead, she was, like Garland, able to cut all the way to the she center of what it feels like to be with someone--to be a live to the core. Like Garland, the biz let her go there only rarely. She was not near the show woman Garland was. But if our sensualties are at our centers and I believe they are, then Donna Summers is the the singer that once went the deepest and returned with the most and shared it the most truthfully for any one with the courage to listen, rather than just dance. God bless and keep you always, Miss Summers. Greatness is not always recognized and cherished in its time. Yours was not, but one day, if the world ever grows up, it might be. And give Marilyn a hug for me when you see her. You were two candles in the wind, right Elton?


DDDHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Thomas and Tyshawn- Like many KU fans, I'll be rushing home from work to get in front of the tube to watch two of my favorite Jayhawks learn their futures! Best of luck to you!


ukanjhox 1 year, 9 months ago

Why is it so hard to properly format an article to be on this site?

And, enough with the "former Jayhawk" talk that you mentioned multiple times, Matt. They're not current Jayhawks, but they'll never be former Jayhawks.

As far as playing for MJ, I'm sure T-Rob would get over that novelty real fast. The Bobcats are going to suck as long as MJ is making decisions.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 9 months ago

Potential breaking news stories. (But you won't be able to comment on because you use ljw mobile)

5) Vandals set fire to Memorial Stadium track. 4) Popovich Retires. 3) Brock Berglund to undergo sex change. 2) Mangino hired as OC at Liberty University. 1) Kansas University (<see what I did there?) to retire Brady Morningstar's jersey.


justinryman 1 year, 9 months ago

Now that's family.

two guys playin pick up and neither one caring who wins.

They will both be great representatives of KU when they hit the league, no worries there.

Wish they could have proven more in college( not to me, but to the east coast media) and walked away waked with it all. But it's not the battle that settles the score but the war at the end.

These guys are warriors, they are Jayhawks, they are WINNERS. I will always respect and always remember what they brought to KU Nation.




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