Early Choice

Although he's just a sophomore this year, Jalen Robinson had already been thinking about making a college verbal commitment for several months, and after considering everything West Virginia had to offer, he told the Mountaineer coaching staff he wanted to be a part of the program.

"I had been thinking about it since the summer time," Robinson told BlueGoldNews.com. "I have been watching West Virginia play for a while now, and every time I went there it felt like home, so I decided to go ahead and commit. I have been to their basketball camps and to a couple of football games this year, and those were all good trips."

Robinson also hopes to work out visits to a basketball game or two this year, but has to work that out around Northland High School's busy schedule. The Vikings, rated #4 in the nation in one high school basketball poll, mix in national games with a very competitive league schedule. Northland played the newly-formed Huntington Prep Express team in early December, and also has games scheduled against Findlay (Nev.) Prep, Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, Bishop Luers of Fort. Wayne, Ind and Detroit, (Mich.) Country Day. Northland, which won the Ohio Class A state title last year, is loaded with talent, including Jared Sullinger and J.D. Weatherspoon, who have both signed with Ohio State, and Trey Burke, who also received West Virginia interest before committing to Penn State.

Armed with such a talented group around him, Robinson doesn't feel any pressure in helping defend a state title or holding up to the expectations generated by a lofty national ranking.

"It's good to know that other people on your team are as good as or better than you," he said. "To be playing with Jared Sullinger, and to see how he does things and works and prepares, that's only going to help me. I don't really feel any pressure. If everyone does what they should, and fills their roles, the games should take care of themselves."

Robinson, a well-spoken young man, has already developed a solid post game, and wants to spend the remainder of his high school career working on expanding his game.

"On offense, I am a back-to-the-basket guy, but I can face up too. I post up a lot in our offense, and I can go out and catch the ball at the elbow. I want to work on my perimeter game and improve there. In defense, rebounding is my big thing. I can block shots, and play good help defense."

Robinson's defensive skills helped get him notice at West Virginia's camps, where he "worked on defense and rebounding" almost exclusively. He noted those were points of emphasis at Huggins' camps, and are things which closely fit his style of play.

Robinson played last year at Westerville South, but moved into Northland's attendance district this year. At Westerville, he averaged seven points and five rebounds in 25 minutes per game, and was a stalwart on the All-Ohio Red AAU team alongside future WVU teammate Elijah Macon.

"I talked to him last night, and he was pretty excited about my commitment," Robinson noted. "We have played AAU ball together for a long time, and we are excited to play together in the future. He told me he's looking forward to the two of us dominating the Big East."

Robinson (6-8, 220 lbs.) was recruited by assistant coach Erik Martin, and the two hit it off almost immediately.

"The first time I met him I was sold," Robinson said enthusiastically. "He is a good guy and a good coach. He played for Coach Huggins at Cincinnati, and he told me about all of that. We talk about life and other sports – it's not just all about basketball.

"As for Coach Huggins, he is a great coach. He really knows the game. I know that he has had a winning record for a long time, and his goal is to win championships. That's my goal too. His record with putting players in the NBA is really high, and that tell me he can coach the skills that you need to do that."

Robinson had offers from a number of schools in Ohio, including Akron, Kent State and Miami (Ohio), and also had interest from Ohio State and Kentucky. However, he decided that West Virginia's offer was the one he was waiting for.

"I was high on West Virginia from the first time we talked," he explained. "I have seen them play, and I I knew they were going to be good."

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