Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Robinson Wins NCAA D-III Rookie of the Year

This winter Duncan Robinson (New Castle, NH) had one of the best freshman seasons in Division III men's basketball history. Robinson led Williams College to to the D-III national title game, averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He shot shot 55.7% from the field, 45.3% from 3 point range and 87.8% from the free throw line. Those are staggering numbers for any player, let alone a freshman.

Robinson was voted D-III National Rookie of the Year, NESCAC Rookie of the Year, he made the All-NESCAC 2nd Team, D-III National 4th Team All-American and also made the D-III Final Four All-Tournament Team. The New Hampshire native did all of that while playing in one of the most competitive leagues in the country for academics and basketball.

"My first season at Williams was everything I had hoped it would be" Robinson told the NH Notebook. "The run we made in the tournament was one of the best basketball experiences I've ever had in my life. Towards the end of the year we started playing our best basketball when it mattered most. Fortunately for me I had the opportunity to start and contribute right away. Right from the start both the coaching staff and the entire team showed that they had a lot of confidence in me and wanted me to step in and be aggressive on both ends of the floor."

Robinson attended Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA before doing a post-grad year at Phillips Exeter Academy. He played AAU for the MB Nation and then the Middlesex Magic. For most freshmen, the transition from high/prep school is a difficult one. However, that was not the case for Robinson.

"I think one of the major reasons why I was able to make such a smooth transition to the next level was mostly because of the my post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter" explained the 6-foot-7 wing player. "The extra year in a more complex system and for a coach as great as Coach Tilton gave me a lot of confidence when I made the jump to the next level. Along with Coach Tilton, my AAU coach, Coach Crotty (a Williams basketball alum), gave me guidance as well both on and off the court. On top of their help, I also focused on major aspects of my game that I felt I needed to improve. Both my strength and my ability to score in a variety of ways were two things that I really focused on enhancing."

It was a season to remember for Robinson, but one game in particular stands out above the rest.

"As for a highlight of the season, it would have to been our 29 point win over our rival and defending national champions Amherst College in the Final Four to go to the national championship" Robinson noted. "That game is one that I will never forget. All of the support we received was incredible, and to win in such a team-first fashion was really something special."

Robinson flew under the radar while he was at Governor's, and really burst onto the recruiting scene while playing with the Middlesex Magic and then during his PG year at Exeter. By then many folks were saying he was one of the most under-recruited players in the northeast region.

"I would definitely agree that I was underrated in high school" commented Robinson. "I have a lot of confidence in my ability as a player and I truly feel that I was as good or even better than a lot of players who went on to play Division I basketball. Now with that being said, I didn't feel at all that by coming to Williams I was playing beneath my level of competition. The NESCAC is a very strong league that is filled with 'scholarship level players' that in many cases chose to value a more complete college experience over the opportunity to play at the highest level possible. Williams was a great opportunity for me because it gave me the chance to compete for a national title while contributing right away and also receiving a great education. It was an opportunity that I knew I could not pass up."

Robinson had such a monster freshman season at Williams, you have to wonder if he was on a mission to prove those bigger schools wrong who didn't recruit him.

"This year I wasn't necessarily out to prove anyone wrong" Robinson pointed out. "However, I do look to use the fact that I felt that I was overlooked as a motivation to continue to keep working and improving. I am more focused on proving my belief in my abilities right than proving anyone else's doubts wrong."

Even though he has had one of the best freshman seasons in D-III history, Robinson is happy at Williams and is not considering a transfer to a D-I or D-II school.

"Overall, my experience this year at Williams has been incredible and I wouldn't trade it for anything" concluded Robinson. "I have grown a lot as both a person and player and that has a lot to do with both my coaches and teammates. I 100% plan on staying at Williams for the remainder of my career in hopes of chasing my ultimate goal - winning a national championship. At this point that is the only thing on my mind and I can't wait to have three more chances at it!"

Congratulations to Robinson on a tremendous freshman season, and best of luck with the rest of his career.

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