One-on-One With Thomas Robinson

Jan. 7, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

The University of Kansas is well-known for its basketball program and in that program it is also known for its big guys. The list goes on: Wilt Chamberlain, Greg Ostertag, Danny Manning, Raef LaFrentz, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, Wayne Simien, Cole Aldrich and countless others. This year’s team is full of big guys with experience and athleticism. In that group of guys is someone that would love to have his name in the same sentence with those mentioned above, Thomas Robinson.

Robinson, a sophomore, is full of raw athleticism and has had an NBA-ready body since the time he stepped on campus. The 6-9, 237-pound Washington, D.C., native was able to spend his freshman year playing behind one of KU’s greats, Cole Aldrich.

“It was an amazing experience. Some people take it as a bad thing playing behind someone, but when you have somebody ahead of you that is in the pros and a KU legend, I take it as a great thing,” Robinson said.

Aldrich was a two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the Jayhawks and it would be hard not to pick up a couple things from someone who is in the NBA currently. Many people can already see what Robinson learned from Aldrich. Robinson can rebound with anybody in the country and has the skills to be a great shot-blocker.

“I tried to learn everything I could from Cole (Aldrich). All aspects of the game, certain moves. There are certain things you can’t pick up, but I tried to learn everything I could from him,” Robinson said.

Now that Aldrich is with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it is time for the next KU great to step out and shine. However, Robinson isn’t the only NBA-caliber post player the Jayhawks have. The Jayhawks have the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff. Both are expected to have huge years as well. The Morris twins and Robinson aren’t your prototypical big guys. They are lean, fast and athletic, which are all different traits than what Aldrich brought to the table. So it was to be expected that things will be a little different in Lawrence this year.

“It’s definitely different because he was my roommate last year, too,” Robinson said. “Cole brings a lot of energy to the table, so with him being gone now we lost a couple things from his type of game. You can’t do exactly what he did, it’s not possible because it’s Cole, but we’re going to try our best.”

This past offseason Robinson was in the gym constantly trying to improve his all-around game. In his freshman campaign he was out of control at times and, you could say, played like a freshman. But not even halfway through this season, he looks like a completely different player.

“I feel like I’m a better player, but I still have a long way to go. There’s a lot of stuff I can work on, but I definitely feel like I’m better now than I was at this time last year,” Robinson said.

Through 13 games in 2010-11, Robinson is averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He also shares the team lead with 14 blocks and is shooting 62 percent from the floor. However, he will be the first to tell you that he still has a ways to go.

“My defense is something that I definitely need to improve on. Also, just becoming more consistent as an overall basketball player,” Robinson said. “More consistent in the way that I don’t have a really good game and then follow that up with a bad game.”

Robinson is a physical specimen and has all the tools to be great. When asked what he thought his greatest tools are as a basketball player he said, “My energy and heart for the game. It’s just something you can’t teach and it comes naturally to me.”

KU fans can surely see that energy and hustle because Robinson brings it every time he steps on the court. He is a fearless competitor that will continue to improve and only make the Jayhawks better. Robinson and the Jayhawks are off to a 13-0 start this year as they get ready to head into the heart of the season.

“We’re still a work in progress. We have to learn to play a full 40 minutes. We have to treat every opponent the same, whether it’s Colorado State or Kansas State,” Robinson said.

If Robinson continues to progress then it’s only a matter of time before we mention his name with other KU greats that played before him.