Breakout Year for Jeff Robinson? | Zagsblog
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Friday / November 15.
  • Breakout Year for Jeff Robinson?

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    NEW YORK — When Seton Hall’s Jeff Robinson announced he was testing the NBA waters, it raised more than a few eyebrows around the college basketball landscape.

    After all, if anyone from Seton Hall’s program should be testing the waters, the thinking went, it was Herb Pope or Jeremy Hazell.

    The 6-foot-6 Robinson, a former Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick standout who transferred from Memphis during the middle of his sophomore season, averaged 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Pirates last year and was hardly a breakout superstar.

    He was nowhere to be found on the draft boards at DraftExpress.com or NBADraft.net.

    Yet if you listen to what new Pirates coach Kevin Willard has to say, Robinson could be poised for a breakout season next year.

    “Jeff Robinson’s been terrific, he really has,” Willard said Wednesday in New York. “Every day he works hard. He’s in the gym late at night. He’s doing what he needs to do off the court, too.

    “I think he has a chance to be a special player, I really do. He has a great drive about him that I love.”

    Between them, Hazell, Pope and Robinson averaged 44.1 points and 20 rebounds last season.

    If Pope recovers from his collapse and returns to the court along with Robinson and Hazell, watch out for Seton Hall.

    Willard said there was a “a lot of negativity” hanging over the team when he took over six weeks ago, and he’s looking forward to helping turn that around.

    “I think this group wants to prove to a lot of people what type of character they have, what type of people they are,” Willard said. “From everybody I’ve talked to, there was a lot of negativity around the program when I first got there. And I think these kids understand that. And I don’t think people have really got a chance to understand what type of kids these are, how hard they work, what they’ve done.

    “For us going into next year, my main goal is for everybody to get to know these kids, to understand what they’ve come from, where they’re going, what goals they have and I think that’s my main goal.”

    Can they be an NCAA tournament team?

    “Every year my main goal is to get better every game,” Willard said. “I don’t think you can say it’s an NCAA tournament team because I haven’t practiced with them enough. But we could be a pretty good team. Where that takes us, you never know.”

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    (Photos courtesy Seton Hall Athletics)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.