Robinson Works Out with Hornets
Former East Carolina point guard Antonio Robinson wasn’t star struck by any of the players he met in conjunction with his NBA workout in Charlotte on Wednesday morning. However, there was one former NBA great that was hard for him to miss — both literally and figuratively. Robinson said he noticed former Knicks center and current Hornets assistant coach Patrick Ewing watching the on-court portion of his workout with the team, adding, “I watched him play, but he was always mean. So ... I was wondering how he was going to approach me.” After the workout, Robinson finally got his chance to walk up to the towering, Hall of Fame big man. “I shook his hand and he actually said he liked what he saw,’” said Robinson. “We talked for two or three minutes and that was it. Just hearing that from him, it was great.” Robinson spent the last two seasons at ECU after transferring from Louisburg College. During his senior year, Robinson started all 33 games as mostly a pass-first point guard and was most effective at the head of the Pirates’ 2-3 zone defense. He recorded team-highs in both assists (3.7 per game) and steals (1.7) last season, but shot just 36 percent from the field and averaged 4.2 points per game. Entering what would turn out to be his final collegiate game, Robinson had made seven 3-pointers all season long. But against 20th-ranked SMU in the American Conference Tournament quarterfinals, Robinson shot 4-for-8 from beyond the arc for a career-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Robinson’s goal on Wednesday was to prove to the Hornets — and every other professional team — that his performance against the Mustangs wasn’t a fluke. “A lot of coaches want me to score the ball,” Robinson said. “If I can just get in front of coaches and show them I can shoot the 3-ball or score while drawing a foul, I think that would really help.” Robinson shot 39 percent on 3-pointers last season, converting on 11 of his 28 attempts. The Hornets first contacted Robinson’s agent last week, arranging for the Winston Salem, North Carolina, native to be flown into Charlotte on Tuesday night. According to Robinson, no other NBA teams have contacted him before or since then. When Robinson arrived to the Hornets’ facilities at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, he was given a timed, written test that lasted 12 minutes; then he was asked to write a description of himself in 100 words. After completing the paperwork, Robinson had his weight and height measured and was put through a miniature combine — consisting of a vertical jump, shuttle run and several other drills — before he could finally set his sights on basketball. The on-court session lasted about an hour and had Robinson working out alongside six former college players, which included N.C. State’s Ralston Turner. They played 3-on-3 and then were asked individually to go one-on-one in pick-and-roll sets. When the workout was finished, Robinson was pleased with what he accomplished. “I think it went pretty well,” he said. “Just going out there and getting my confidence back and showing I can shoot the ball, that helped me out a lot.” Robinson aspires to join former Pirates Akeem Richmond and Maurice Kemp, who both signed with NBA D-League teams last year, and end the school’s lengthy drought without a player in basketball’s top league. The last ECU player to appear in the NBA was Jonathan Kerner (1998-2001).
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