Sunday, August 18, 2013

Thomas Robinson recharged, settled after rocky rookie season in NBA

Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a current member of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, goes after a rebound during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a current member of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, goes after a rebound during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.



Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, throws down a dunk during a game of J-A-Y as campers watch during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Former Kansas University power forward Thomas Robinson — the highly-touted No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — was left dazed and confused after getting traded twice during his rookie season.

“You don’t feel settled at all,” said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Washington, D.C., native, sent from the Sacramento Kings to Houston Rockets in February and on to the Portland Trail Blazers in July.

“It’s a unique situation, but unique things tend to happen to me,” the 22-year-old Robinson added Sunday at Bill Self’s Basketball Pro Camp in Allen Fieldhouse. “It feels like I’ve been in the league five years already. It’s only been one. It’s a good thing. It’s matured me as a player, matured me as a person. It humbled me a lot.”

Robinson in one year went from a KU starter who averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds to a reserve who managed just 4.8 points and 4.5 boards for the Kings and Rockets.

The decline in productivity left Robinson searching for answers.

“I talked to (KU) coach Self a couple times this year, more than a couple actually,” Robinson said. “He constantly told me the same thing he told me when I struggled before my junior year — just be a rebounder. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Robinson hit the boards hard, averaging 12.8 rebounds (third-best mark in league) and 10.4 points while playing five games for Portland in the 2013 Las Vegas NBA Summer League. He grabbed a single-game summer-league-high 18 rebounds to go with 12 points against the Chicago Bulls.

“One thing that describes me is rebounding. My confidence is getting back up,” Robinson said.

That’s in large part because ... “I think he (now) realizes who he is. He is a rebounder who can score as opposed to a scorer who can rebound,” Self said Sunday. “If he can just worry about the things he can control, he’ll become an even better shooter.”

Robinson hit 43 percent of his shots and 52.3 percent of his free throws for the Kings and Rockets after canning 50 percent of his shots and 68.2 percent of his charities his final season at KU.

“Thomas can shoot,” Self said. “Thomas for me was a volume shooter, though. Since he had the green light his last year, he knew if he missed it didn’t matter because he was supposed to keep shooting.

“In the NBA, it’s a little bit different when you are not the first option,” Self added. “So he has to be able to make one out of two wherever he shoots from.”

Of course, it’s hard for a rookie to make shots when he’s constantly on the trading block.

“I think his head is right, not that his head was ever bad. Sometimes when things don’t go well, you get (put) in different spots, you get a little down,” Self said. “I think his batteries are charged. He’s excited to be in Portland. He had a great summer league. He was probably the best rebounder in the summer league. That’s what I’ve been told. He’s excited to get started. He has new representation. It seems to me he has a new lease on everything.”

Robinson said he’s motivated to play for the Blazers, who have made it clear he’s somebody the front office values.

“I feel wanted there, which is a good thing,” Robinson said. “They are young, especially with the main core guys, so I will try to go in there, find a spot to help the team. For them to come in and make me feel like it’s home for me is definitely a big deal.”

Robinson is eager to forget about last year — which he called a “rookie roller coaster.”

“Mentally, man,” he said of the key to his future success. “My career isn’t over. It doesn’t matter what I did last year. I need to get back to being who I am as a player. That’s all I plan to do this year.”

This, that: Robinson had no comment Sunday when asked for an update on his sister, Jayla, who, along with Thomas, survived the death of their mother and two grandparents during Thomas’ sophomore season at KU. ... Self said it was great to work with former KU guard Ben McLemore on Saturday and Robinson on Sunday at his pro camp. “I didn’t have to convince them. They want to come back,” Self said. “These guys love coming back. They look for an excuse all the time to come back.” ... Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: “Everything. I was thinking the other day about walking on campus, getting ready for the season, the Big 12 tournament ... everything.”


Scott Smetana 9 years, 1 month ago

Note to recruits... Need coaching advice after college? Call Self, you're a Jayhawk for life.

I'm betting UK alumns call World Wide Wes or his friends who promised to set them up if they followed their advice.

RJ King 9 years, 1 month ago

I have no love lost for the Squid, but suspect he is equally willing and qualified to give NBA advice.

Scott Smetana 9 years, 1 month ago

He's a recuiter, not a coach. I'm betting those players could get better advice on

KANSTUCKY 9 years, 1 month ago

If Capillary can blow smoke up whereever whenever and can get pub for it he will be happy to give advice. The tip jar is on the desk if you want a signed copy...

jaybate 9 years, 1 month ago




It put Rodman in the Hall.

David Brown 9 years, 1 month ago

Ain't that the truth. Remember reading a quote from an NBA player, "You've got to be able to do one thing really, really well to stay in this league". Though Thomas, please don't dye your hair like Rodman! Pollard & Ostertag lasted all those years in the league, you can too.

Cameron Cederlind 9 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully we won't see Robinson shopping for wedding dresses anytime soon

Sam Constance 9 years, 1 month ago

Or playing the role of unofficial attache to North Korea

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 1 month ago

Exactly what I was thinking while reading the article. Scott Pollard stuck around in the NBA because of his rebounding game and his best season averaged just over 7 per game plus his first season wasn't in any way a success.

Robinson can surely beat that.

REHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Early departers, especially, seem to return to the Kansas campus and absolutely bristle with adoration for this place. Is great that Self remains influential and brings them home.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 1 month ago

“I didn’t have to convince them. They want to come back,” Self said. “These guys love coming back. They look for an excuse all the time to come back.” ... Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: “Everything. I was thinking the other day about walking on campus, getting ready for the season, the Big 12 tournament ... everything.”

Priceless recruiting tool: former players gushing about how much they loved being at KU and how much they miss it. This is what Bill Self means when he says that KU sells itself for recruits. And having a coaching staff that work their tails off on the recruiting trail helps a little, too.

Robert Brock 9 years, 1 month ago

Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: [HAS ANYONE EVER COMMENTED ON THE GREAT FOOD THAT THEY MISS?]

Steve Gantz 9 years, 1 month ago

With league stops in all kinds of places with awesome restaurants, I'm sure he doesn't miss Lawrence restaurants!

texashawk10 9 years, 1 month ago

I doubt T-Rob got to enjoy the nicer restaurants in Lawrence very often. I know I only ate well when my mom came up to visit me. The rest of the time, it was mostly dining hall or microwavable food with an occasional late night trip to Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee's if I had a few extra dollars.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 1 month ago

Maybe it's just me, but out of the three cities he's called home in the NBA, Portland seems like it would be the best.

texashawk10 9 years, 1 month ago

A lot of that depends on your values. Many pro athletes choose to live in Houston because you can wear shorts 11 months out of the year, it's not a media hotbed so you can get a lot of privacy, and there is no state income tax so you keep more of your paycheck.

I'm not trying to knock Portland because I've never been there, so I only have second hand knowledge of the city. I've seen enough pictures to know that that area of the country is beautiful. I also know that Portland is culturally a pretty liberal place and not everyone is comfortable with that.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 1 month ago

Well, I'd rather be in Portland like T.Rob than Salt Lake City like B.Rush.

Brianna Zaleski 9 years, 1 month ago

Any theories as to why he kept mum when asked about his sister? Maybe they're riffing about something? Maybe he wants to move her out to Portland but she refuses?

Jaybate, please don't say it has to do with shoes. Ha!

Jabez Harlan 9 years, 1 month ago

I would think that Robinson just wants to keep Jayla out of the media spotlight as much as possible. No news is good news for that young kid I say.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 1 month ago

there hasn't really been much news since Robinson was drafted. I think that prior to or during Robinson's junior year Jayla's father was pursuing legal custody of her. It's none of our business really, but I would guess that Robinson's "no comment" might have something to do with a legal dispute with Jayla's father. Again, it's a private matter and none of our business, but I would think that if everything was hunky-dory then TRob would have simply said that Jayla is doing fine, or that she loves her new neighborhood or something.

Benz Junque 9 years, 1 month ago

It's probably just that it is no one's business what his sister is doing. Hats off to the young man for respecting her privacy.

jaybate 9 years, 1 month ago


Shoes? We don't need no stinking shoes!!!! :-)

Steve Gantz 9 years, 1 month ago

4-5 points per game and 4-5 rebounds per game are not terrible numbers TRob! I'm sure there are all-stars and maybe even hall of famers with similar first year numbers. I checked Rodman he averaged 6 points and 4 boards his first season.

Chris Shaw 9 years, 1 month ago

One of the more Bizarre rookie campaigns I've seen in a while.

Michael Luby 9 years, 1 month ago

TRob just wants to keep his lil sis out of the media spot light. He's being protective, as he should be.

Dan Cook 9 years, 1 month ago

Wonder why everyone continues to list TRob as 6'10" when he's maybe 6'8" wearing a small heel. Many of us thought he would struggle offensively and he has. His best offense is on the offensive glass. A couple put backs, a bucket in transition, one low block turnaround and 2 free throws and you're averaging 10 a night, Thomas. Follow Coach's advice and you can be a 10 and 12 guy and play in the league for a long time!

Jack Wilson 9 years, 1 month ago

Right .. 6.7.75 barefoot, 6.8.75 in shoes.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 1 month ago

In this era of litigation, seeing the words "recharged' and "settled" in the headlines caused my heart to skip a beat or so!!!

bayareajhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

I am a huge T Rob fan, but I was told that over the weekend he was in a small local restaurant trying to hustle free food and drink from the girl at the counter. That is ridiculous, and borderline disgusting.

You are a millionaire, Thomas. You probably make in a week what the restaurant owner makes in a year. Pay for your food and leave a good tip. Don't act like a broke high school kid. It's insulting.

All that said, good luck this year. You can be the best rebounded in the league. It's all up to you.

Sean Doherty 9 years, 1 month ago

I was also told by someone I barely know who is prone to talking BS in order to increase his rep that you made love with a monkey who was underage even for a monkeys standards. Moral of the story. Stop saying stupid ish before you're known world wide as a Monkey F'er. You damn San Fransisco under age monkey lover. That is ridiculous and beyond any borderline, let alone disgusting.

With that said, Good luck with your monkey f'ing. You can be the best monkey receiver in the world. It just up to you.

bayareajhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Where to even begin to respond to this? Perhaps by thanking you for the enjoyable irony of your giving an utterly classless response to a post imploring somebody else to behave with a bit of class?

I may have lived in the Bay Area 10 years ago when I signed up for my screen name, but I have been back in Lawrence now for several years. Lawrence is a small town, and our NBA former Jayhawks are big celebrities here. If they do something stupid here, people are quickly going to hear about it.

I heard about this incident just a few hours after it happened from the people who were involved (and whom I happen to know). T Rob was in the restaurant with friends. He asked for a free lemonade from the girl at the counter. She gave it to him. He then asked if he could get a free entree and she declined. It's clearly not that big of a deal, but it has caused many people in town to lose some respect for T Rob. I don't think anybody's giving up on him or anything, but this definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

I like the guy, and I know he is still very young. That's why I posted what I did earlier in the (surely) vain hope that someone who knows him would relay to him that this type of behavior doesn't fly anymore now that he is a multi-millioniare visible celebrity. The Jayhawk family has given a lot to T Rob, and he can reciprocate by acting like a gentleman and not trying to take advantage of members of the family who have far less money than he.

Now as far as sleeping with underage monkeys, you must have me mistaken for someone else. I restrict myself to sleeping with attractive female humans in their mid-20s.

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 1 month ago

Surprised that nobody has pointed out this line by HCBS about TRob: "....He has new representation.". Sounds like there may have been some issue not with his abilities, but, with his original agents. If that was the case, I hope he has "representation" that can and will put him in a position to see success as KU Nation knew he was capable of.

The Blazers definetly need an image like Robinson and are always hungry for the next great player, ala Damian Lillard. It's a shame Kevin Pritchard is not part of the Blazer's organization anymore. He could have been a big factor in TRob's development there.

jaybate 9 years, 1 month ago


Is he still having a Labatt's and a curl?

Hope he's getting some water skiing in on a nice lake in Ontario somewhere.

Yo, Nike, stay the !@#$% away from Andrew.


REHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

O My! You are hidebound to shake more donkeys out of the thickets.

wrwlumpy 9 years, 1 month ago

Without having to purchase ESPN Insider you can find out Cliif Alexander's leading school.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the link .. the knock on Alexander is that he's not a scorer. But everyone has something that isn't perfect.

But numbers are interesting here. How do we land two top post players? Seems like Myles is a major KU lean. Some think he might commit during his visit, others say he'll wait to decide until January.

Even one top guy seems like a bit of a reach with what we have in the shed already ... Embiid, Ellis, Mickelson, Traylor, and Lucas all presumably for 2014-15.

If we get one top guy, it's probably assumed Embiid or Ellis go pro.

If we get two top guys, well, "I enjoyed my time at KU. My family and I really want to thank coach Self and the staff for all they have done for me. My time as a Jayhawk will be one of my most treasured memories. But, with my family, I've decided to transfer. It was a hard decision but one I had to make."

REHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Man, I really hope to see Ellis back for a 3rd season and Embiid for a 2nd. Perry has been a joy for me to connect with from the standpoint of fanmania; and I suspect that JoJo will be a similar draw. With both those players the word DEVELOPMENT leaps to mind. I view that as a most relevant word in terms of "amateur" Division 1 sports. For me the bittersweet dichotomy lies in my feeling good for underclassmen who are able to reel in the big bucks; but I am not at all sold on the one and done acquisitions who barely spend a full year in Lawrence before waving goodbye, barely attached to anything Jayhawk but for hardware in the showcase and an occasional future news reference to their having spent time in a Kansas uniform. I feel for the likes of Xavier, who appeared woebegone at his hasty departure from the program; not so much for Selby, who seemed eager to rush out the door. Those guys will always be Jayhawks...but just barely, at least in my mind. I think Ben Mac will hike down a better pro path for his having spent two seasons in Bill Self's program. I am inclined to follow his current and future progress more faithfully than I did the other two.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 1 month ago

One could. At the very least Black exhausts his eligibility. Turner would be like the PERFECT Embiid replacement. Alexander's a lot more of a bullish PF. Turner to me looks a LOT like Chris Bosh.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 1 month ago

Um, Ellis & Embiid would still get plenty of minutes. The ones that you'd have to feel for the most would be Traylor & Lucas.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 1 month ago

The need is there more for McLaughlin or Oubre who will also be there.

Of all of them, Turner DOES seem like the heaviest "lean" towards KU at the moment.

I think it was funny how quickly Selden committed after Late Night last year. His experience w/ KU was a lot like mine. I visited one other school, had another visit set-up for after KU and just flat-out cancelled it and was like - I'm in love - I'm going here.

Evan Bilyeu 9 years, 1 month ago

Yeah I agree, with Brennan Greene, AWlll, Frankamp, Selden, etc. it's going to be a fight for minutes. In some ways it might be good to have a little competition because it will push them. I think that is what is making Mason a better player, he is being pushed.

jaybate 9 years, 1 month ago

"jaybate's 133rd Dream Late in August about KU having Tarik the Physique Inside this Season"

~Tarik sets a ball screen for Selden on the wing. Selden's man winds up in the fifth row.

~Tarik sets a ball screen for Wigs' on the other wing. Wigs' man winds up in a concession stand on the loge.

~Tarik crosses the lane to set a back pick on The Designer's man. The Designer's man winds up on the opposing team's bench.

~Tarik runs from the low block to ball screen the Designer's man top of key. The Designer's man winds up in an ambulance with his spleen on ice in a zip lock bag waiting to be sewn back in at Lawrence Memorial.

~At half time, Naa imitates Roadrunner and uses Acme latex to paint a black tunnel on Tarik's front side, then drives the lane and scrapes his man off with Tarik. Naa's man looks like Wile E. Coyote smashed flat against the tunnel painted on Tarik.

~Tarik gets out on the secondary break. Each foot step registers 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Tarik runs over three players, dunks the ball, shatters the glass, crashes through the bleacher, then runs through the outer wall of Allen Field House leaving an outline of himself the way the Three Stooges used to when they ran through walls. Tarik keeps running to south to Perry Lake, where he forearm shivers the spill way and knocks it over, then comes to a stop in Bucklin, Kansas to have a lemonade with Eddie home visiting an old pal having a hernia operation. Eddie reveals to Tarik that Self's hair is real. Tarik then runs down to West Mineral, KS, in the strip pits and Tarik cleans and jerks Big Brutus the steam shovel.

Evan Bilyeu 9 years, 1 month ago

Nice story, I understand what you were getting to, Tarik is going to be a living brick.

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