It wasn’t that long ago that Justin Robinson was considered a mid-level prospect within the Mid-Atlantic region. As recently as his junior season, he’d received scant national attention and generally had been the subject of a recruiting battle that mostly was bereft of major conference programs.
But Robinson performed well at various events his junior year and continued to impress in the early spring, including at the Metro 60 Challenge. By then, he’d drawn scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, UMass, Old Dominion, Providence, Radford and St. Peters.
He traveled the EYBL circuit with the strong Boo Williams squad and split time in the backcourt with ace sophomore Matt Coleman, among others. Robinson was unremarkable in statistical terms — no way around it — and as such he accumulated some skeptics in the process.
The general consensus here at Scout is that he’s more capable than he demonstrated consistently during travel team play, as he thrives on structure and specializes in halfcourt command — not exactly the name of the game during the summer.
Robinson committed to Tech in mid-October and will provide the Hokies a top-100 prospect — No. 11 at his position — when the 2015-16 season kicks off.
Robinson is a thinking man’s point guard. He’s a surveyor, not an action-first guy, and thus his generalship tends to flourish throughout the game after a sometimes quiet beginning.
He’s an excellent handler and passer who should become the Hokies’ primary dribbler versus pressure as well as the chief playmaker. Given his style and skills, he possesses both the physical and mental qualities to succeed at the lead position for an ACC program.
|Robinson likes to pull up from 12-16 feet|
Like all the proverbially heady point guards, Robinson understands how and when to feed a teammate who’s hot or enjoys a favorable matchup. He makes fundamentally sound entry bounce passes to big guys yet has the ability to thread the needle as well. He runs the break efficiently and, as a southpaw, sometimes catches defenders by surprise.
He’s also a reasonably effective medium-range jump shooter who can keep defenses honest without sacrificing team play in favor of his own scoring production.
His free throw shooting registers as another under-appreciated aspect of his game. Robinson drilled 81 percent of his free opportunities in EYBL play, over a long 22 games.
He’s also a winner. Despite uneven production himself, Boo advanced to the EYBL finals in mid-July and then won the Super Showcase later that month.
Most vexing is Robinson’s average size and athleticism. He’s 6-1, 175 pounds and not particularly quick or explosive off the floor. Those limitations hamper his ability to finish in traffic, and he isn’t the kind of player to consistently penetrate the lane to break down defenses. He’ll likely need ball screens in order to drive into the interior.
He’s also not a proven shooter. Robinson shoots a hard ball that doesn’t afford him much margin for error from long-range, as his shot tends to swish or bounce off long.
His overall production also can be spotty. He can blend into the scenery more than would be ideal, something that has occurred both in high school and on the EYBL circuit. His stats for Boo Williams — six points and two assists per game on 39 percent shooting — were very modest. He also projects as an average defender.
In fairness, Robinson didn’t play as many minutes as some of his peers, and you can’t quibble with the team’s success. Travel basketball simply isn’t the best style of play for him.
Given time to grow stronger and learn the college game, Robinson should develop into a solid floor leader for the Hokies. His ability to run the offense, handle versus pressure and knock in situational buckets — along with a reliable free throw stroke — give him the basic tools to succeed at that level.
He may never become a consistent scoring threat and realistically does not project as one of the league’s most explosive players, but he projects as a four-year contributor who should improve each year as he gains experience and soaks up coaching.