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.


Mick Allen 8 years, 1 month ago

Love is a Hurting Thing. The almighty Hawk.

Ross Cargo 8 years, 1 month 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!

Michael Luby 8 years, 1 month 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.

milehighhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

He's still hanging around Lawrence (as of last week, at least). A buddy of mine knows him, and said he was looking forward to playing in Europe.

Ken Sedgwick 8 years, 1 month 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.

Mick Allen 8 years, 1 month ago

You will be proven wrong along with HEM. You need need to watch Mason.

chaggs 8 years, 1 month 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.

VailHawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Brackins looked like a sure lottery pick that nite now he's playing oversees...which makes me wonder what happened to Fizer?

Bryce Landon 8 years, 1 month ago

Who gives a damn about Iowa State stars? Cy-Clowns players are punks and thugs.

Ian Emerson 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Bryce Landon 8 years, 1 month ago

The Michigan Wolverines might beg to differ about that...

Michael Pannacciulli 8 years, 1 month 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.

Scott MacWilliams 8 years, 1 month 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?

Evan Bilyeu 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Todd Simpson 8 years, 1 month ago

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

pizzashuttle 8 years, 1 month 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.

mikehawk 8 years, 1 month 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.

jaybate 8 years, 1 month 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!!!!

Bryce Landon 8 years, 1 month 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 years, 1 month 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.

Ted Hume 8 years, 1 month ago

Ever experience night runs at A-basin under the Full moon? Unbelievable. Just a truck to shuttle back to the top of the pass, then drop from the roadside into the trees for some frightful and beautiful boarding/skiing insanity. Lucky to be alive, I suppose...

I'm not sure how long any "conventional" ski season is going to last in the near future in the industry with such a steady increase in ave. temps and, some years, shockingly early and drastic snow melts and increasingly erratic " totals; even with tech upgrades in snow making, you gotta have the air temps and albedo to sustain it. I sure miss the Rockies of three decades ago (won't even get into the pine beetle blight, it's too heart wrenching to think about)...

jaybate 8 years, 1 month ago


It was like you were there...and you were.

There are some sports like golf and basketball, baseball, and football that occur on floors and playing fields that are time independent. One can grieve a little about changing arenas, but at least the floors are pretty much the same.

But skiing is a sport that is utterly time dependent. Where you skied your heart out as a young man changes over time. The little known ski areas become heavily developed and heavily used. All that one cherished about the place once is gone. And to ski there, regardless of the slope being perhaps not so very different, is altered beyond being what one yearns so much for. And as you noted weather conditions themselves change, whether from human malfeasance, or natural cycles, or both. My first ten years in California saw a swing from drought to incomprehensibly huge snow falls. That is what I remember. The Sierra cement in all its stunning excess. I remember a six foot snow fall in Tahoe in one night. Impossible even to get out the front door. Had to climb out the second story window with snow shoes and hike to Truckee, which was small enough to be at least still a little like a mountain town. Now I hear about places to ski and I go to them once in a while thinking they will be the new undiscovered country of my youth, but they never are. I suspect there are such places off continent. But now I am too old to bear up under the challenge of getting up there and getting down. To the young skiers around, take my advice: don't settle for these crowded places we call ski areas now in USA. Bank your money. Borrow if you have to. But find the undiscovered slopes no matter how far away and hard they are to get too. These will be memories you will carry with you and cherish the rest of your life. It actually scares me to think how close I came not to even take up skiing, and then almost to settle for the crowded resorts that were being fed as trendy. Ski the high country, where others don't yet go much. There is nothing like it. Sometimes there are little jewels buried away near to us, but less and less it seemed to me these last 20 years.

jaybate 8 years, 1 month ago

And to those that call this being a geezer, its not. You really do only get one shot at the undiscovered country. You have to be young enough to take the risks and overlook your own limitations.

I know there are old fitness freaks that can ski the Andes without high altitude tea and a chair lift, but I was never that good of a skiier anyway. I just liked to be able to get places that were barely skied...not because they were so steep, but because so few were willing to make the trek. Alta, Utah, 1976. So small a lodge. So small a bowl. So near to Salt Lake City. So few skiers on a weekday. Such good powder. And nary a condo development on the drive up the canyon. Sundance a dream in Redford's mind. Park City just a place on a map. The Wasatch forgotten as the lemmings flocked to Aspen and Vail. Pend O'Reille. 1978. Just a mountain and a lake no one cared about. June Mountain for awhile after the lemmings went to Mammoth. Once you didn't have to go far for some peace and quiet and some unmarked snow on a week day. Now its seems you do.

So go far, while you can. Its worth it.

Ted Hume 8 years, 1 month ago

great to be reminded of such things, and to urge the younger to make a effort to get at what you love to do and act on it, because time passes in a way they can't understand yet- but will only soon enough. You've convinced me not to let another year pass without hitting the slopes again somewhere, even if it won't be the same as before.Making the mental adjustment beforehand always helps...

KUsmoothies 8 years, 1 month 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.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 1 month 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...

Dirk Andrews 8 years, 1 month 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

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