Jerome Robinson rising above North Carolina recruiting snub at Boston College

first_img Published on January 23, 2018 at 11:06 pm Contact Bobby: Jerome Robinson ventured to Chapel Hill basketball camps numerous summers growing up near Raleigh, N.C. His bedroom walls “had to be blue.” Tar Heels jerseys and shorts filled his drawers.Jeremy, his younger brother, rooted for Duke, fanning the flames of their one-on-one games. When his father, Jerome Robinson Sr., unloaded shots at the Dean Smith Center alongside his UNC friends, Robinson tagged along.The father and son assembled a highlight tape and sent it to an assistant coach at UNC early in Robinson’s high school days. Though he was slender, lacking flashiness and had yet to rise to his current 6-foot-6 height, his father said he thought he had a chance. Robinson’s favorite team told him no.“We see you but you’re not quite there yet,” Robinson Sr. said, remembering the reply. The two printed it out. Robinson’s motivation for life had been dropped directly in his inbox.Robinson now leads a rejuvenated Boston College (13-7, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) program in scoring with his 18.3 points per game into BC’s game against Syracuse (13-6, 2-4) on Wednesday. The Eagles boast a win over then-No. 1 Duke, a massive stride in proving his home state wrong for snubbing him in recruitment. Duke once represented Robinson’s dream of playing in “The Triangle” of NC State, Duke and UNC.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMajor in-state programs wanted him for baseball, mandating he play year-round. But he would not quit hoops. North Carolina’s basketball scene had captivated Robinson.“Everybody loves basketball from grade school,” Robinson said. “Old people will come watch a kid play when he’s 12 years old if he’s really good. It’s just the culture down there. Basketball’s huge.”Robinson grew up and played baseball in Florida until second grade, but new basketball-obsessed friends in Raleigh influenced him to pick up hoops even though Robinson’s height did not hold a commanding presence. His father remembers him standing in doorways as a child, “trying to stretch himself and grow.”But Robinson enrolled in Needham Broughton High School at just 5-foot-9. Jeremy, three years younger, outgrew him. Between freshman and sophomore year, Robinson’s doctor predicted he’d only reach 6-foot-2.“He was devastated,” Amy Robinson, his mother, said. “But then as the time went on he started growing.”Robinson’s D1 credentials appeared as thin as his frame until he met Mark Gottfried, NCSU’s head coach from 2011-17. Gottfried’s sons, Cameron and Aaron, played at Needham Broughton and Robinson befriended Cam. Following the UNC email after sophomore year, Robinson sought Gottfried’s advice.Gottfried granted him access to the NCSU facilities to train, but Robinson wanted to know how he could make an ACC gym his own.“He was just saying (stay) at the point guard out of high school,” Robinson said. “Being able to shoot the ball, guarding different positions, stuff like that.”Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerRobinson Sr. soon noticed his son gone until 10 or 11 p.m. every night, when he’d call for a ride home from campus. Gottfried, whose office overlooked the court, encouraged Robinson’s dream and praised his dedication, but stopped short of offering a scholarship.“It gave him validation,” Robinson Sr. Said, “when you have an ACC coach tell you that wherever you decide to go you’re going to be a hell of a guard.”Needham Broughton lost to Devonte’ Graham’s Brewster Academy in the Smith Center —or “Dean Dome” — to finish 2014 at 22-7. As a senior, Robinson’s 23-3 team defeated rival Milbrooke in a jam-packed gym in the Holiday Invitational and he scored 19 points per game throughout the season.The series of games featured the some of the country’s brightest prospects: Thon Maker, Brandon Ingram and Harry Giles. Robinson won MVP.Through it all, Robinson rounded out his game with Raleigh trainer Gawon Hyman, who worked with the Golden State Warriors’ David West and now-Kansas guard Graham.The two clicked. Hyman, a “cerebral,” detail-oriented coach, loved how Robinson arrived with specific points to improve upon. Early on Robinson shot threes, but as he grew taller he wanted to work on driving. Hyman adjusted the angles Robinson attacked the rim at, and it shocked him that while most students would take 10 shots from a spot and move on, Robinson demanded three straight makes to finish from himself or he wouldn’t budge.Robinson has expressed a desire to train in areas uncomfortable to him, Hyman said, which made it easy to prepare his game for the next level. It started with finishing through larger players.“Guys that were recruiting him … had a hard time believing that he could play point,” Hyman said. “It’s something we’d laugh about. I’d say ‘Wow, Jerome, are you surprised at this?’ He was like, ‘Don’t worry about it coach, we gotta show them.’”As more coaches questioned Robinson’s ball-handling capabilities, he brushed it off. But the only in-state offer that hit his table was from North Carolina Central.“It was tough,” Robinson said. “It was just trying to figure out why at first. My dad would just tell me everything will take care of itself. Which it did.”NCSU, Wake Forest, UNC and Duke sat silent, but 20 offers followed into senior year, including Clemson and Boston College, Robinson Sr. said. Only BC fit his desire to play and study business, forcing him to leave his home state despite his dream to play in North Carolina. He committed on his visit with a dose of hesitation, Robinson’s mother said.Year one, BC lost all 18 ACC matchups. Matt Milon, Idy Diallo and Sammy Barnes-Thompkins transferred, and Robinson’s roommate A.J. Turner left the following year.The weight of lifting up the program fell on Robinson, who stood up to the challenge, literally. He reached the 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 range he coveted as a child and used it to advance his inside game. He’s now listed at 6-foot-6.Hyman noticed the height increase while rewatching Robinson’s games. Hyman suddenly saw the emergence of both a mid-range and floater game that’s made Robinson “deadly” in the half court this season. He increased his two-point percentage from 44.7 to 46.6 percent freshman to sophomore year, and then to 49.1 this season.In Robinson’s second year, Ky Bowman entered the fold to share the ball-handling workload and, now at the off-guard position, Robinson has increased his three-point shooting to 45.1 percent.“It’s electric,” Robinson said. “We can both get downhill. We can both shoot the ball. We can both make hard shots and electric plays at the same time.”Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerBowman rarely sheds his smile, saying it’s the back court’s job to get in opponent’s heads, not their own. While Robinson yelled “hit shots” stone-faced through a recent practice, Bowman laughed as a pass narrowly missed assistant coach Bill Wuczynski’s head.The duo played Duke within 11 points their first year together, adding to the motivation of the most recent matchup, this time in Boston.Bowman and Robinson combined for 54 points on 20-of-35 shooting on Dec. 9 vs. then-No.1 Duke, a win BC head coach Jim Christian demanded join the athletic office’s wall of greatest moments. Both guards began the game losing the ball on the ground to Duke guard Grayson Allen and surrendering transition points. Robinson, as he often does, lifted himself up, clapped his hands and moved on matching the Blue Devils point for point.With 11:44 remaining in the second half, Bowman tossed Robinson an alley-oop behind the defense to go ahead four. Robinson’s fifth three-point make in five attempts, deep on the left wing, lifted BC ahead for good with just over one minute remaining.“I used to think (about) that before,” Robinson said of the extra motivation vs. Duke. “(Now) I just take every game how it is now. I look at it as every schools should’ve recruited me. Not just those Carolina schools.”His shot solidified a win over a Duke team that would have been a dream come true at one point to play for. But three years in with the Eagles, Robinson has helped build something 700 miles north of Durham.His father looked down at the court to try and see Robinson among the mass of students swarming the court as the buzzer sounded on the historic 89-84 win. Suddenly, he spotted Robinson looking back.“It was just a smile, that was it,” Robinson Sr. said. “It was just a smile. That’s all.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Mercy: 2019 marks the end of an era for position players pitching

first_img Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield “I don’t think anybody wants to,” Rockies catcher Drew Butera said. “I don’t think everybody goes, ‘oh, let’s get so and so on the mound tonight.’ If it happens, I think teams are more understanding of how to save arms and having guys athletic enough to do it.”There’s something fundamentally fascinating about seeing a position player on the mound. It looks downright foreign, like baseball from a bygone era. Many appear to be floating the ball over the plate. Even more pleasing is the opposite phenomenon – the position player with a hidden talent, such as Butera. He was clocked throwing 91-mph fastballs when he made his mound debut for the Twins in a May 2012 game against the Brewers. He can dial it up a couple more notches if needed. Yet the pitch comes out straight, with not enough movement to deceive a major league hitter.“If guys knew I was a pitcher, I’d get shelled,” Butera said. “It’s so straight and 95 is nothing anymore.”If you want to ruin the experience of watching a position player pitch, just ask the men on the field how much they hate the whole enterprise. It is hard to appreciate their distaste from the stands. Or maybe it was until we saw a pitcher congratulate a hitter for taking him deep while the hitter rounded the bases. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros On Aug. 16, a Little League Baseball player from Virginia hit a home run in a victory over a team from Rhode Island. Running down the third-base line, the batter was greeted by the Rhode Island pitcher with a simple glove tap. The clip went viral.Opinions on the glove tap were split. If you believe the Little League World Series consists of friendly games among children, you could appreciate the genuine innocence of the moment. If you believe it to be something more – a training ground for high-stakes competitiveness, perhaps – the gesture invited uncomfortable feelings. Shouldn’t the pitcher have been bothered by giving up a home run? Is that really the time and place to congratulate your opponent for beating you?The major-league embodiment of these questions is Francisco Arcia. The erstwhile Angels catcher became a fantastic trivia answer on Aug. 11, 2018. That night, in the ninth inning of the Angels’ game against the Oakland A’s, Manager Mike Scioscia allowed Arcia to take the pitcher’s mound. The Angels were trailing 7-0. Scioscia had managed 3,081 major league games without allowing a position player to deliver a single pitch. (He warmed up utilityman Taylor Featherston once, in 2015; that was the closest he ever came prior to last year.) Arcia pitched once more before the season was over. Then Scioscia retired, 44 games short of a 19-year career using only full-time pitchers and Shohei Ohtani on the mound.Bud Black, Scioscia’s former pitching coach and the Colorado Rockies’ manager since 2017, let utility player Ian Desmond pitch the eighth inning Monday at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Harvard-Westlake alum Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox The Orioles are on pace to lose 108 games. That’s not a coincidence. The position player pitching is a white flag, an act of surrender, a trend tailor-made for tanking teams.Related Articles “I despise it,” Black said the next day. “I do not like it at all.”Black did it anyway. The Rockies were trailing 16-7. It was September, so teams could roster up to 40 players. Black had 10 relief pitchers listed on that day’s lineup card. Yet the Dodgers knocked out starter Peter Lambert in the second inning, it took five relievers just to get the game to the eighth inning, and Black had a game to manage the next day.Enter Desmond, a 33-year-old jacknife who had never pitched since the Expos drafted him out of high school in 2004. Earlier that day, Desmond volunteered to throw the eighth inning if Black desired. In their moment of truth, the manager called the player’s bluff.“I’ve only done it, I think, three times in 13 seasons,” Black said. “I don’t like it at all. I try to stay away from it as much as I can, but (Monday) night I felt as though we had to do it just based on where our pitching has been the last 10 days, the use of our bullpen members, even though we have a little bit of an expanded roster.”Black is hardly the first to reach that juncture. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has put a position player on the mound seven times this season. If it happens again, the O’s will break the major league record (if we exclude the 12 games Ohtani pitched last season). Even if we include Ohtani’s rookie year, there have been more position players on the mound in 2019 – 89 through Tuesday – than any season since Babe Ruth’s 1915 campaign. Exclude Ruth, the last full-time two-way star prior to Ohtani, and the record has already been set. Perhaps this is why Major League Baseball is tightening its rules next year to discourage position players from taking the mound. Beginning next season, no player on an active roster other than those designated as “pitchers” will be allowed to pitch unless a game enters extra innings, or his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player takes the mound. Designated two-way players, such as Ohtani, will be granted an exception. It’s the closest thing resembling a codified “mercy rule” in MLB.This season, then, seems likely to herald the end of an era. The 2019 Orioles will likely go down as the Kings of Surrender, the tankiest tankers who ever tanked. Stevie Wilkerson, the O’s most prolific position player-turned-pitcher, entered Wednesday’s games with a 73 ERA+ in four games on the mound and a 69 OPS+ at the plate. At least Wilkerson got something out of it: the discovery of his true talent. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more