It’s not often an LSU basketball signee comes to campus drawing comparisons to Shaq, the man whose life-size statue now greets all walking into and nearby the program’s basketball facility. But that’s exactly who leaps to mind when thinking of 7-foot-1 freshman center Elbert Robinson III.
One major difference between the two, though, is O’Neal was still in Baby Diesel stage while in Baton Rouge, filling out his frame, while Robinson is actively trying to shed pounds and the “overweight” label that’s followed him for the past 10 or 12 months.
Robinson, a native of Garland, Tx., jumped up to 328 pounds at the beginning of his senior season at Lakeview Centennial. It was a weight he recently told reporters inhibited his game.
“My junior year I was 290- or 280-something, and I was more explosive. I was dunking on everybody then,” said Robinson. “When I got to 320, I found myself not as explosive as I was and my shot-blocking wasn’t as good as it was my junior year. So I had to lose the pounds.”
Fast-forward to current day and ER3, who arrived at LSU in early June weighing 301 pounds, is not only down below three bills; he’s finally putting the pieces together from a nutritional standpoint to sustain a lower weight and healthier build.
“I actually weighed in today at 288 pounds, so I’ve lost a lot of weight,” Robinson explained last Wednesday. “In high school I was eating anything I wanted to eat. I wasn’t taking it as serious as I should have taken it. But when I got here I was like ‘There are a lot of expectations, so I’ve gotta get my body right to be prepared for the season.’ Eating right has been a big factor.”
Caloric intake isn’t the only adjustment Robinson has been forced to make since he got to campus. The lefty big man told TSD it’s taken almost a full month to get used to the rigors of college life and the on-court pace this level of hoops demands.
“It’s been crazy. It was crazy the first couple of weeks because I was so out-of-sync,” recalled Robinson. “But now I’m getting in much better shape. School is a little different, too, and getting up early in the morning for workouts. It’s just a lot different from high school, and everything just has more pace. In high school you could jog around and stuff. Here, it’s non-stop.”
Now that he’s caught stride – and his breath – on the floor, Robinson is starting to find a feel for where he fits in, particularly when it comes to playing off sophomore forward Jarell Martin.
“Me and Jarell, we have a good feel,” Robinson said. “He’ll drive, dish it off to me and we’ll get a dunk, or we’ll play high-low with me going up top and him posting up a smaller guy.”
As for his individual game Robinson shared a few notes on what he worked on most in high school and how he’s emphasizing the mental part of his game today to adapt to what he’s experienced so far in open-court runs.
THEN: “In high school I worked on face-up a lot because I knew my back-to-the-basket (game) was going to work against the smaller guys. It was easy. So I was a big-time face-up guy.”
NOW: “I can get quicker with my moves but try not to rush things. When I first came here I was like I gotta rush to make a move, but now I know. I’m starting to get the pace of the game and stuff like that.”
On a final note Robinson, who will replace much of the inside presence Johnny O’Bryant gave LSU the past few seasons, addressed comparisons between the two players. The former was sure to point out one area where he is distinctly different from the latter, now with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We have some similarities, but I think we’re different because I’m a defensive player,” concluded Robinson. “I like playing defense, blocking shots – I love that. Getting defensive rebounds, too, that’s my game.”
LSU fans, as well as guys like Martin and Jordan Mickey, will be awfully excited to see those words come to fruition once November rolls around on the hardwood.