Robinson's Time Arrives

ATHENS – Trey Thompkins is very good, although hurt to start the year. Travis Leslie is good, too.

But a big reason the Georgia men's basketball team had a losing record last year was it lacked that third major scoring option.

Actually, that option was around. He just couldn't play.

But when the season starts Friday night, Gerald Robinson Jr. will be eligible, he will almost certainly be a starter, and as the season goes on, coaches and teammates expect the 6-foot-1 guard to be a factor.

"He's gonna bring a lot to the table," Leslie said. "Very fast. Athletic. He's gonna be a hard matchup."

Or as one former SEC coach whom recruited Robinson put it: "He'll be a difference-maker."

The Georgia media guide didn't try to ramp down expectations. It states that Robinson is "offensively skilled" and adds that "based upon performance in practice last season, he should be much-needed relief for a Georgia offense that has struggled to score in recent seasons."

Robinson, a junior, sat out last year after transferring from Tennessee State. After the season, when Georgia went 14-17 with a number of close losses, head coach Mark Fox estimated Robinson could have netted the Bulldogs a half-dozen more wins.

Depth was the main reason, as starting point guard Dustin Ware admitted he was exhausted by the end of the season.

But Robinson's play could lift them this year, regardless of depth. Robinson is expected to play both guard spots, sliding to the shooting guard when Ware plays the point, and handling the point when Leslie moves to the wing.

It all leads to the question: What took Robinson so long to get to the high-major level anyway?

"Recruiting should really be judged at the end of someone's career, not the start," Fox said. "He probably realized that he signed below where he should've been out of high school. And I think he'll have a big impact on this team. We hope that translates into victories. But I do think he's a guy who has the talent that he should've been at this level for a couple years already."

Coming out of high school in Nashville, Robinson said he had offers from Georgia, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Alabama and Marquette. But he wanted to play in front of family members, including his father, who is the men's tennis coach at Tennessee State.

"I felt like it was the right choice at that time," Robinson said. "The family atmosphere, and the support they had at Tennessee State. Playing time had nothing to do with it. I felt like I could play at both levels."

He proved he could play at the mid-major level right away, averaging 15.2 points as a freshman, and was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the week six times. As a sophomore he averaged 17.8 points and just under four assists a game, and was a second-team all-conference pick.

Most assume Robinson left Tennessee State for the bigger challenge and exposure. But he insisted it had more to do with a coaching change.

"Bringing in a new coach, I just figured, maybe I want to explore my opportunities on a bigger level," Robinson said.

As for the jump in competition, Robinson shrugged that off, pointing out that they played against Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia Tech twice, and beat Illinois his freshman year.

As a sophomore, he scored 25 points in a loss to Kentucky, which had Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson.

"I always figured I could play anywhere, coming out of high school," Robinson said. "There wasn't really any doubt I could play there."

Now he gets the chance to officially prove that.

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