Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ex-KU guard Russell Robinson finds overseas career rewarding

Former Kansas guard Russell Robinson watches play on the white team at the Mario Chalmers All Pro Celebrity basketball game Thursday at Olathe East.

Former Kansas guard Russell Robinson watches play on the white team at the Mario Chalmers All Pro Celebrity basketball game Thursday at Olathe East.


Like the vast majority of highly-recruited basketball players from the Big Apple, New York City Rice High’s Russell Robinson dreamed of someday playing in the NBA, not far, far away in Europe.

“Back then, playing overseas was dreadful. They didn’t have Skype, didn’t have Facebook and all those things,” said Robinson, starting point guard on Kansas University’s 2008 NCAA championship team who was not selected in the ‘08 NBA Draft, making him a likely candidate for overseas hoops.

“As college came along and there came more options, I embraced it. That’s where the game took me. I’m not fighting it. I’m enjoying it, living life and making good money doing it,” added Robinson, who on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Stelmet Zielona Góra, a Euroleague team in Poland.

Terms were not disclosed, but suffice it to say Robinson’s contract is well into six-figure territory.

“More importantly I’m playing the game I love, getting to travel the world ... unbelievable,” Robinson stated.

After giving the NBA a shot — he toiled for both Reno and Maine in the NBA Developmental League after graduation — Robinson in 2009-10 headed overseas for stints with pro teams in Turkey, France, Spain, Italy and now, Poland.

“The NBA is definitely a different game, but factor in lifestyle and the things I’m getting to do, it’s all a blessing,” the 27-year-old Robinson stated. “I’ve been to four different countries, dealing with different coaches and egos, the culture barrier. Having to perform at a high level, it’s all making me a better person. I love it. Every year there’s something different, new challenges I face. I embrace it.”

Robinson started the 2012-13 season playing alongside former Iowa State standout Craig Brackins with Italian club Angelico Biella. Robinson moved over to Polish team Turow Zgorzelec where he averaged 11.6 points and 3.6 assists a game. His squad lost to his new team, Stelmet Zielona Góra, in the Polish League finals. Brackins, coincidentally, has also signed with Robinson’s Zielona Góra squad.

“I’m living life, going wherever it takes me,” Robinson said.

He’s been back in Lawrence this past week, supporting his former KU teammate, Mario Chalmers. Robinson played in Chalmers’ charity all-star game on Thursday in Olathe. Robinson has been back for all four of Chalmers’ National Championship Golf Classics (the fifth is Monday at Alvamar) even though he is not a golfer.

“Me and Mario have that relationship. We stay in contact with each other no matter where we are in the world,” Robinson said. “It’s family. So I try to make an effort, try to make a way to make it back here and spend time with him. Anytime I can get back to Kansas and enjoy this atmosphere, I do it. The fans ... we (former players) miss them so much. Any chance to share time with them, I like to do that.”

Robinson has been able to play in some pick-up games with members of KU’s current team.

“They have an incredible team, young, athletic,” Robinson said. “I haven’t had a chance to play with (Andrew) Wiggins yet. I’ve seen everybody else. Like I said, unbelievable, incredible athletes and shooters. It’s going to be fun. Coach (Bill) Self, like always, is going to work his magic, get everybody in line. I can’t wait to see it all play out.”

He commented on the point guard group that includes junior Naadir Tharpe, plus freshmen Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp.

“Naadir has definitely stepped up as a leader,” Robinson said. “It’s incredible how he’s grown over the last couple years. They are in good hands. I think it’s all going to be pretty good.”

Camp coming up: KU coach Self will hold his inaugural Basketball ProCamp, featuring Ben McLemore and Thomas Robinson, on Aug. 17-18 in Allen Fieldhouse. The camp, for youths in grades 1-12, will run with Session 1 from 9 a.m. to noon and Session 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. For information on the camp go to

Windy City Pro-Am: KU’s Naadir Tharpe and Jamari Traylor have been competing in Nike Chicago League games over the weekend in the Windy City. Former KU guard Sherron Collins is also competing in the league. Tharpe hit five threes in the first half of his “Dream Team” loss to Code Black on Saturday. For a video of Tharpe’s performance in the game, click here.


Dirk Andrews 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Congrats to one of the toughest Hawks ever Russ Rob! Doing what he loves and seeing the world, what a great thing. Also glad to see Tharpe and Traylor active in the summer. RCJH


JayHawkFanToo 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Here is the Andy Katz interview of Coach Self; I call it the "basic instinct light" interview; once you see it you will know what I mean...


KUsmoothies 8 months, 3 weeks ago

If you have a chance, right around 21:00 in the Windy City Pro-Am vid Tharpe has a nice dish to Jamari for a sick dunk. Traylor also has a couple nice blocks. Definitely worth a look.


William Blake 8 months, 3 weeks ago

“I’m living life, going wherever it takes me,” Robinson said.

Go, man, go... just don't forget to take a few photos, vids, and keep a journal. The time goes fast and before you know it, you can hardly recall any of it because it passed in a blur.


jaybate 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Just between you and me, Kuhl makes the only kind of technical clothing worth owning and I don't own any stock, or know anyone related to the company. Damn I wish Kuhl had been in business when I was a young buck. I've got a charcoal Kuhl Stuttgart and pair of Renegade pants. After just these two items, I'm hooked. You know what the pros in the apparel bidness say about guys. We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

Yo, Sheahon, do we have a KU ski team? If not, let's get a KU ski team going out at Mt. Bleu and use the fleet of alumni light jets flying on tax subsidies to get the kids out to A-Basin daily Is there even still an Arapaho Basin slope out in Colorado? God, I used to love skiing that once mostly overlooked slope. I used to book myself in there during business trips for a day there just to ski through trees (I love skiing through trees more than anything), or over at Alta, Utah, to ski untouched powder before Utah was ruined with development. I would go when I was supposed to be hopping coast to coast as fast as I could pre cell phones and internet, when you could disappear sometimes without fear of being tracked, or join the 30,000 foot club without fear of someone snapping a cell phone shot and posting on Facebook. I never cheated an employer, either when I was working for myself or someone else, out of anything but ski days, and I always made them up other times of the year plus one. But enough digression. Sheahon, let's sign with Kuhl even if we have to pay them to be our sponsor!!!! :-) I read some where (but don't hold me to this) that Kuhl mismanaged themselves, and got a little sideways. It doesn't matter. The guy knows the mountains and he knows clothes. He has to be saved! :-) There aren't many real deals left with in reach of people in the age of oligopoly. Let a flat lander ski team help save the clothes born in the mountains. Any company with a Kuhlmog has to be saved.


Bryce Landon 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Just goes to show you don't have to make millions to be happy. If RussRob is happy with a six-figure salary instead of a seven-figure salary, that's fine. He's making more money than I am.


jaybate 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I know Mario is the man after The Shot and two NBA rings.

Brandon Rush is always my vote for most talented player in the Self years.

But Russell Robinson is the guy I love the most, the guy I feel the most protective of, the guy I would absolutely want on my team no matter who else was on it, and no matter what kind of team it was.

If KU were to need a logo with a player on it for the Self years, it would be for me RR in a defensive slide with those outrageously long arms spread and poised for a strip!!!

Russell Robinson grew up at KU just as I did.

Russell Robinson didn't get it his freshman year and incurred the wrath of his mentors his freshman year, just as happened to me.

Russell Robinson started out thinking he would be one thing as a freshman at KU and then discovered that his true calling was something much different starting his sophomore season, just as happened to me.

Russell Robinson stuck around Lawrence one time when everyone else he knew and pal-ed with went home to their families like I did and Russell Robinson got invited to spend some of that "alone" time with a family in Lawrence that owed him nothing, but took him in because they were Jayhawks that loved KU students, just as happened to me.

I was not from far away from my home town the way Russell Robinson was, but within in six months my personality had grown half a world away from what it was, when I left home.

I always felt I had something in common with Russell Robinson unrelated to basketball. Something that was just there. I have never met him and I do not ever need to meet him. I know what I know.

I always looked at him, and read his quotes, and recognized a kindred spirit. And when I read the quotes above, about how life had taken him in directions that were not what he had planned, or expected, and that he felt so fortunate and was just trying to embrace it and live life to the fullest, I knew EXACTLY what he meant, yet again.

History keeps repeating itself in different ways with different persons. But underneath it is all the same.

This is an awesome life we sometimes are blessed to live on this mortal coil, if only we will keep open to the opportunities and to what is happening when we think almost nothing at all is happening. It is those moments seemingly steeped in drudgery and routine, when the after burners light and a life goes non linear.

Rock Chalk, Mr. Robinson and...

Go, Russell, go!!!!


mikehawk 8 months, 3 weeks ago

More players out of college should take the position and strategy RussRob has, being realistic about the NBA, and going oversees to learn and "embrace" the situation, see the world and make some decent money. Believe me, no matter where you are in the world, if you are good enough, the NBA will find you. A much better deal than the D-League unless you are there specifically because a team who owns your contract wants you to develop.


Ralster Jayhawk 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Russell Robinson simply remains my favorite standard-setting Bill Self lead-combo guard... He simply made the other 4 players better, thus making that 08Champ team sooo hard to guard. And there has not been a better point-defender than Russell Robinson in 10 YEARS of Bill Self KU basketball. His blanket-coverage of D.Rose in the ChampGame, including an out-of-bounds clean swat of an early Rose jumper was just supremely typical of Russell's effort level. And the game prior, he opened the onslaught on UNC with a 3 bomb, and ended that slaughter with the game's final layup. Awesome update on my man Russell! So glad he picked (& stayed...) to play at KU instead of GaTech...bringing home the ultimate prize along with Mario, Sherron, & 08ChampFamily has made him legend. RCJH


pizzashuttle 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I still hope RR makes it to the NBA but good to hear he's enjoying his career and travel overseas. Always be one of my favorite KU players - never took plays off, played with equal intensity on defense and offense.


Todd Simpson 8 months, 3 weeks ago

just wanted to point out JT was killing it on the Defensive end and rebounding there with NT


Evan Bilyeu 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Can someone please show me a pic with RussRob with a Mohawk? I am dying to see it!


Scott MacWilliams 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"Anytime I can get back to Kansas and enjoy this atmosphere, I do it. The fans ... we (former players) miss them so much. Any chance to share time with them, I like to do that.” Ahh, music to our ears. The atmosphere, second to none. Thanks to you, too, RussRob, for your four amazing years of contributions to Jayhawk hoops history.

This seems to be a very consistent comment from Jayhawk alums, and hopefully is relayed to all future prospects. And yeah, where did KY end up this summer?


Michael Pannacciulli 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Brackins could play in the league. No doubt.

Love RusRob. He knows he's living the dream and is fully invested in the moment. Good to hear.


Ian Emerson 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Of course Naa is a leader. Remember the OKST game? Natural born killer


chaggs 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I remember yelling at my TV for someone to "take out his knees" the night Craig Brackins went off against us for 42 points!

It's nice to see many of the good guys play over seas for a living! It may not be the ultimate goal (NBA), but playing the game you love for a sizeable paycheck is a heck of a consolation prize.


Ken Sedgwick 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm guessing AW is out of town? All signs are pointing to Naadir running the show. So all you recruiting guru's need need to stop speculating about any top rated point guards. Naa will cover the point for the next two years.


Michael Luby 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Gary for keeping us informed about former Jayhawks. I love seeing them do well. Would you find out what Kevin Young is doing? Is he playing overseas? I think he is a given to join the Puerto Rico national team but Id like to know all the same. He was one of my favorites to come out of Lawrence.


rockymtnjhawk 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Good work Russell. See the world. I spent the day in Tokyo. I love this place. Sitting in airport now to go home. This would be at least a few days too early, even after a week in the Philippines!


Dan Pawlowski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Rock Chalk is Russell Robinson.


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