Now that star Kansas Jayhawks power forward Thomas Robinson has declared for the NBA Draft, it becomes time to take a quick look back at the 2011-2012 college basketball season for Thomas Robinson. He was the second best player in the country and led the Jayhawks to a National Championship appearance.
Thomas Robinson finished the season averaging 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, as he was easily the best rebounder in the country. He allowed just .85 points per possession against him, which beat out teammate Jeff Withey for the conference lead. Robinson was among the best five defensive players in the country this year, with Withey right next to him in that regard. Both players were the best in the Big 12 this season with their incredible defensive play down low.
Robinson’s turn from seldom-used player whose early college career was stricken with tragedy to rise up and become a National Player of the Year candidate and superstar rebounder is just incredible. He finished the year with a 51.2 eFG%, which is highly efficient for a big who took under half a three pointer per game. Thomas Robinson finished with a 27.4 PER that was second in the conference, but PER is just one piece of the puzzle; he led the conference in win shares and had importance that transcends statistics.
Advanced statistics give us a general idea of a player, but no statistic is more telling than his 30% usage rate. In order to be ninth in the conference in eFG% with a high PER and average 1.10 points per possession, it takes a certain degree of efficiency over that much usage in order to not become a “possession waster”. Thomas Robinson was anything but that last season, and the high usage rate is a testament to how important he was to this Kansas team.
Without Thomas Robinson, Jayhawks fans can forget about all those comeback victories and a comeback season. If you recall, Kansas wasn’t even an NCAA team in the fall. T-Rob is the most important player to his respect team in the country, and Kansas would not have been even a Sweet 16 team without Robinson playing for them. He brings down 21.4% of the available rebounds, plays lockdown defense, and he controls the interior on offense like none other. Defenders know he is going to get the ball and that the offense goes through him, but they still can’t fully stop him. They can frustrate him, but Robinson was too much of a force on offense and would fight for the bucket at all costs.
It’s telling that the leader in free throw attempts in the conference- shows his drive to work on the inside and draw fouls- was the first unanimous All-American since current NBA superstar and former Oklahoma Sooners superstar Blake Griffin. The respect Thomas Robinson receives from peers like Jared Sullinger is incredible, and he even out-dueled the preseason National Player of the Year favorite in their head-to-head match-up in the Final Four.
Thomas Robinson finishes his career at Kansas as a beloved, heart-warming player whose career was teeming with work ethic and leadership. He always worked for the extra bucket and would do all he could to avert a shot or give Kansas the edge. We will all miss him in Lawrence, and we wish him well in the NBA. He will be a solid player in the pros with the defense, hard work, rebounding, and efficient offense that he builds his game on.
In home games, Thomas Robinson shot 57.3% from the floor. Notable games were his 20-12-2 (points-rebounds-blocks) to help beat Georgetown 67-63, a 26-11-3 assists to help outlast Long Beach State 88-80, back-to-back 21 point games to beat Ohio State and then lose to Davidson right after, a monstrous 30-21-4 AST (!) to shred North Dakota, back-to-back 14 rebound games in wins over Iowa State and Baylor with 27 points against the Bears, a 28-12 to lead Kansas over Missouri, a 25-14 to top Texas, a 25-13 performance in a losing effort to Mizzou, and the 18-15 to lead the Jayhawks over N.C. State. Thomas Robinson is going to be remembered by Kansas fans for some time and for good reason; he led us to the National Championship.
Follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.
Topics: Baylor, Big 12, Blake Griffin, Davidson, Georgetown, Iowa State, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Withey, Kansas Jayhawks Basketball, Long Beach State, Missouri, N.C. State, National Championship, NBA Draft, North Dakota, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Thomas Robinson, Unanimous All-American