Robinson's Michigan Background Shaped Him Into NBA Talent

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Megan Schuster
Web Editorial Associate

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Glenn Robinson III had a goal at the University of Michigan—win a national title. During his two years with the Wolverines, the program revitalized itself under coach John Beilein and became—once again—one of the nation’s elite. One of the biggest reasons for that was a collective belief in the team’s well-being over any one individual.

Robinson fit that profile. He played power forward when needed during his sophomore year even though he’s more naturally a 3, and he did so because it gave the Wolverines the best chance to win. It also led to Robinson’s overall production dropping from his freshman to sophomore year, likely impacting the fact that he fell to the Wolves at No. 40 during Thursday night’s NBA Draft. Once a projected first round selection, Robinson waited patiently to hear his name called.

And it didn’t faze him.

“It definitely gave me motivation,” Robinson said. “I was hearing all kind of talk, and the main talk was 15-30 range, but I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason, you know? So I’m very excited I ended up here.”

Robinson averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 57.2 percent from the field as a freshman. He, draped with future NBA prospects Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary, helped the Wolverines reach the NCAA championship game in 2012-13, and even though they fell to Louisville that team helped Michigan reach heights they hadn’t achieved since the “Fab Five” days of the 1990s.

With Burke and Hardaway gone, it was Robinson’s time to shine as a sophomore. Yet his numbers didn’t greatly stand out—he increased his points per game to 13.1 but his rebounds per game, overall shooting percentage and 3-point percentage fell. But the team kept winning. In 2013-14, the Wolverines again made a deep run in the tournament, falling in the Elite Eight.

Part of that was his overall dedication toward what was best for the team.

“I did what I had to do to win, and I’m a winner,” Robinson said. “I’m very competitive. You can ask anyone; I want to win. That’s what I did to help my team out, and definitely that’s something I’m willing to do for whatever. That’s the unique skill about me, is I can play different positions, and I can do whatever it takes whether it’s locking somebody up on defense or scoring points. Whatever you need, that’s what I’m capable of doing.”

That type of winning mentality stood out for the Wolves—as did Robinson’s ever-present athleticism. The numbers might have initiated a fall on Draft big boards, but it didn’t deter Minnesota from taking a high-value pick at No. 40 on a player they figured would be well off the Draft board by then.

“With Glenn, I watched him a couple times this fall, and this fall he was projected to be a lottery pick,” Saunders said. “But he sacrificed for the team. And if you look at these guys and hear them talk, they talk about the team a lot. The press conference we had before when the season ended, I was talking about not being the lone warrior but about being a team concept no matter what your talent level is. If you do that, you’ve got a chance to win.”

Robinson’s winning philosophy was cultivated at Michigan under Beilein, and he’s well-aware of the impact his program left on his game.

“Coach Beilein really has a system that fits well for us to translate our skills to the next level,” Robinson said. “He has his system but there are also times when we have the freedom to just play.”

Now, he’s ready to take that to the next level.

“You don’t get this opportunity all the time, you know?” Robinson said. “All my friends I grew up with wanted to become professional basketball players. For me to be here is just crazy.”