As the Academic Athletic Association’s regular season is in its final days, talk has increased about players deserving of the making the annual all-league team.
Most of the names commonly mentioned are household ones — Arthur Jones and Travis Hom of Lowell are returning all-leaguers, while Jahrail Taylor of Washington and Ronney Freeman of Wallenberg also grabbed spots on the All-AAA team last season.
But one player who has generated plenty of buzz — Lincoln senior guard Kevin Robinson — isn’t quite as a familiar.
Because unlike those other names, Robinson wasn’t playing last season — instead he was saddled to the sidelines with academic woes.
Thisseason, a more mature and focused Robinson has returned to the court and he is making his impact felt in more ways than one.
"You can see him carrying over the things he doing off court — like taking care of his grades — onto the basketball court, where he’s playing with more attention to detail," first-year Lincoln coach Mike Gragnani said. "I’m real proud of Kevin. I really don’t think he wanted to let anyone down this year and he hasn’t."
Despite a year layoff from competitive basketball, Robinson has shown no signs of rust, leading the Mustangs in scoring at 19.6 points per game, while thriving in a fast-paced offense that Gragnani has brought to Lincoln.
"I thought it was going to be tough with a new coach coming into the season," Robinson said. "But everything has been all good. In our offense, we can just get out and run the floor and switch players in and out. We always pick each other up and give each other feedback."
Robinson, along with speedy point guard Drew Bologna and small forward Aaron Hall, has helped Lincoln to a first place in the Lang Division at 11-3 entering today’s 3:45 p.m. showdown with Washington at home. The Mustangs are 18-11 overall.
"Winning the Lang Division was one of our goals," Gragnani. "We still have a few games to go, but Kevin has definitely been a huge factor in our success."
During his year off, Robinson worked hard to improve his game, focusing especially on extending his shooting range to the 3-point line to help counter his tough-nosed forays into the lane, where he has showed an impressive knack for finishing contested shots as a 5-foot-8 guard.
"I could always get to the basket," said Robinson, who is shooting 48 percent from the floor. "I really wanted to be able to step out and hit the 3 as well."
As the season winds down, Robinson is reveling in every chance he gets on the court, especially after sitting outall of last season.
"Before every game we say, ‘Play this one like it’s our last.’" Robinson said. "It’s my senior year and I just want to go out and make sure every game counts."