Justin Robinson: A Small Kid From Kingston Makes Big Impact At Monmouth

Photo courtesy of Monmouth University Athletics.

By David Cordova

When you’re a small in terms of height, the world tends to doubt you a lot. They’ll say, “He’s too small.” That gives that person motivation to deflate all obstacles ahead of them. It gives them something to aspire to be. It’s like a David vs. Goliath type of feeling.

A player that exemplifies that kind of drive, heart and toughness is Justin Robinson. The 5-8 guard from Monmouth has been one of the most elite point guards in the country since last year and has helped raise the profile of himself and his program to greater heights.

“I’m just driven, internally, I just want to prove to people that size doesn’t matter. That you could do it.” says Robinson.

To know him, first you must find out where Robinson comes from, and that is the town of Kingston, NY, a small town that is an hour outside of Albany and two hours away from New York City. When asked about what it’s like to be from a small area, he said. “Kingston is a tough little city, but it gets overlooked just because it’s so small. Everybody knows everybody. Almost everybody’s related. I just want to be an inspiration to the young kids from there and show them that they can make it out.”

Robinson played AAU basketball with the B.C. Eagles, a team from Monroe, NY, that has produced former Wichita State player Cleanthony Early, a second-round draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. When asked about his experience with the program, Robinson said: “B.C., that’s family for life. I still talk to Bob [Rahn] all the time. I still talk to my teammates all the time. It was a great experience and I loved it.”

At Kingston High School, Robinson was a four-year starter on the varsity team, and posted big numbers every year. As a junior, he was named a Varsity 845 First-Team All-Star selection and averaged 13.3 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 steals. Then as a senior, he posted his best performance, 17.1 points, 8.4 assists, 4.5 steals and 3.3 rebounds. He also led his team to a 19-3 record and a Section 9 Class AA title.

In July 2013, he would commit to Monmouth University to play for King Rice, the former North Carolina point guard, who helped the Tar Heels reach the 1991 NCAA Final Four. “What made me want to commit there was the coaching staff, everybody seemed family-like. And then my co-captain, Josh James, chose to come here too.”

On playing for a coach like King Rice, “He’s a good dude. He’s a player’s coach, he lets us play through our mistakes. He just lets us play and he cares about us off the court more than he cares about us off the court. He’s a good man.”

In his first two seasons, Robinson posted good numbers. His freshman year, he averaged 7.1 points and three assists per game. Then as a sophomore, he would average 13.4 points and 3.6 assists per game. But it would be his junior year, in which he and Monmouth would put the world on notice.

Robinson tries to score against two defenders in a non-conference game against the University of Memphis. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Dill)

Last season, Monmouth, which is a mid-major school, posted five big wins against high-major programs such as UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Rutgers. Robinson then held his own and averaged 19.3 points, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game for the Hawks, who would then go 28-8, and would settle for a first-around appearance in the NIT, after losing to Iona in the MAAC championship game.

Despite not making it to the NCAA Tournament that season, Robinson had fond recollections of that season, “It was good, but we came up short in the championship. So this season, I just want to help my team get back to that point.”

This year, it seems like he will do just that, as Monmouth is now 26-5 and finished as regular-season champions in the MAAC. Although they didn’t beat as many high-major teams as last year, the Hawks have made themselves known as a force in college basketball.

Robinson goes up for a jumper against Siena, on a night in which he scored 40 points against the Saints. (Photo courtesy of Robert Simmons)

Robinson, who has been one of the team’s key cogs on their road to success, has been averaging 19.5 points and 4.8 assists per game. His senior season has been a storybook one, as he became the all-time leading scorer on January 30th against Marist and also became the MAAC Player of the Year for the second year in a row. When asked about being one of the best players in the school’s history, he said, “It’s pretty cool, I guess. I haven’t slowed down to think about it, but when the season’s over, I’ll think about it and reflect.”

As for the rest of his senior season, his goal is to lead the Hawks to the MAAC championship and beyond, “We’re not done, we still have a championship to go get. I want to remembered as a good kid off the court and a team player on the court, who did anything he could to make his team win.”

Highlights of Justin Robinson:

Courtesy of Monmouth Hawks.

Courtesy of Findaballer.

Courtesy of Monmouth Hawks.

Courtesy of Monmouth Hawks.

Courtesy of Monmouth Hawks.

Courtesy of Monmouth Hawks.

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