James Robinson is a 23 year old 190cm guard from Mitchellville, Maryland that is playing his second professional season and first with medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) averaging 8,6ppg, 2,2rpg and 3,8apg. Last season as a rookie he played with BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Bosnia-Division I) helping them win the cup playing 16 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 61.1%, 3PT-2(48.8%), FT: 75.8%; He also played in the Adriatic League playing 24 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 86.3%. Before turning professional he played at Pittsburgh (NCAA) form 2012-2016 playing a total of 137 games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 10.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 75.8%. He spoke to German Hoops late in the summer about basketball.
James thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on signing with German BBL team medi Bayreuth. After winning the double with BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Bosnia-Division I) and having a very strong rookie season, what was your main goal to achieve in the off season in terms of finding a new team?
My main goal this off season was to continue to improve my game in every way possible while looking for an opportunity to play for a club that would help me to continue to grow as a player and as a person.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball.Has Dennis Schroeder been a guy that has impressed you with his game the last years?
I know Germany has a rich tradition when it comes to basketball. Recently, Schroeder has been one of the stars to come from Germany and yes I watched him play since he joined the Hawks. He’s an impressive player that feeds off of confidence and is now the leader of the Atlanta organization.
Medi Bayreuth was the big surprise team of last season and head coach Raoul Korner won Eurobasket.com coach of the year. What was the deciding factor that made you sign on the dotted line? Did you ask guys like Brad Wanamaker or Trey Lewis about the BBL and the club?
I have known Trey Lewis for a couple of years now going back to our college days so I followed the team last year during their impressive season. When Coach Korner called me with interest for me to join the team I was excited and knew I would be going to a great situation. I have followed Brad Wannamaker´s professional career since he left University of Pittsburgh and saw the success he has had not just in the BBL but in all of Europe.
Before you came to Germany you wplayed NBA Summer League with the San Antonio Spurs. How was the overall experience this summer there?
I would describe my experience with the Spurs this summer as a great learning experience, I had the opportunity to be around and learn from one of the top organizations in the world.
You’re a tall physical guard that likes to attack the rim, but you also demonstrated your hot shooting in the Bosnia league shooting 48% from downtown. To what NBA player would you describe your game too and what do you see as your biggest strength?
I like to think of myself as an all around player that can contribute and affect the game in multiple ways, on both ends of the court. I would not say I mold my game after any one player but I like to take aspects of multiple players games and use those aspects to my advantage.
You impressed everyone by your focused play and leadership as a rookie winning titles in Bosnia. To whom or what can you accredit this very important strength to?
Since I was young, I have had great teachers and coaches. Starting with my parents, they helped me develop a tough minded and winning mentality. They put me in environments where I had to compete and work hard. At DeMatha Catholic high school I competed against and with some of the best players in the country and that same standard continued once I arrived at University of Pittsburgh.
You can fill the stat sheet and are also a very good defender, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed?
I’m not sure what my hidden strength would be, if I had to choose it would be my rebounding ability.
Last season you played with BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Bosnia-Division I) playing 16 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 61.1%, 3PT-2(48.8%), FT: 75.8%; Adriatic League: 24 games: 12.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 86.3%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Glenarden, Maryland?
No particular moment was my wake up call. I was and still am on a mission to win as many games as possible during the season while making a name for myself.
It didn´t seem any adjustment for you coming to a new country and team where you were the only American. What do you feel was most key in yourself that had to make you self reliable very quickly?
I was lucky last year to have teammate, Brandon Fortenberry with me for a period of time at the beginning of the season. He was older, more experienced than me, but immediately took me under his wing and helped me to adapt to European basketball and culture.
You witnessed a very exciting 5 game finals series against Bosnia-Royal where you averaged 18 points per game and withstood the pressure. Do you feel like your game reached an extra level in this series?
I think my entire teams level was raised in the final series. We faced a very tough opponent and we knew it would take a total team effort in order to become the champion. Our coaches prepared is very well for the series and we were able to execute the game plans and win.
You played at Pittsburgh(NCAA) from 2012-2016. How did head coach Jamie Dixon groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Dixon prepared me from day one of my college career by making sure I understood and could perform all the fundamentals to be successful on the basketball court. Mentally, coach Dixon also challenged us to be the best we could be daily, regardless how good or bad we were the previous day. I think that quality applies to not just professional basketball, but life.
You came a season after Brad Wanamaker had left Pittsburgh(NCAA). He is on the brink of being an NBA player. How did a guy like that inspire you to always keep pushing as you continued to make your mark season by season as you improved your stats each season?
Brad Wannamaker is a legend at Pittsburgh for his contributions on the court has left lasting impressions on people for the type of person he is off the court. There’s no doubt in my mind Brad will find his way into the NBA because he is going to continue to work to get there. Looking at Brad’s journey, I realize everybody’s path is different but that doesn’t mean stop working and being the best player you can be.
You had many great games in the NCAA, but where would you rank your 22 point, 10 rebound and nine assist game in the 101-96 win against Wake Forest?
That game against Wake Forest was an important game for us as a team especially late in the season, headed towards the NCAA tournament. Like any ACC game it was competitive and one we needed to win on our home floor. I was just happy that we won and I was able to display my talents in a variety of ways.
You played with some very good players that would reach the NBA like Lamar Patterson or Talib Zanna, but what kind of experience was it playing with Steven Adams. What was your favorite Adams story on and off the court?
Yes I have played with some very talented players in high school and in college. Steve Adams off the court was a very funny guy and the most interesting thing about him was the amount of siblings he had and that he played the ukelele. On the court favorite story would be in practice when Steve would step out and occasionally shoot 3s.
In 2013 you took the Gold at the U-19 World Championships against Serbia with teammates like Elfrid Payton Aaron Gordon and Jahili Okafor. Does the fact that you could compete with guys like this day in and day out keep your NBA dream alive?
I definitely believe my NBA dream is still alive. I understand my path is a bit different but I will continue to work to reach my dream.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
My freshman year at Pitt we played against CJ McCollum who was a senior at Lehigh at the time.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
MJ, Magic Johnson, Kobe, LeBron
Lebron didn´t get that 4th NBA chip. Where does he rank at the moment in your opinion in the neverending debate as who is the greatest of all-time him or Michael Jordan?
I believe Jordan is the greatest of all time but that takes away nothing from LeBron.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Only Westbrook and Oscar Robertson have averaged a triple double for the season so yes based on that Westbrook is the best in the world right now.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I don’t believe Westbrook lacked focus on the defensive end, I think he is a fierce competitior that is trying to do everything to help his team win and as a result his numbers across the board are impressive.
What was your summary of the 2017 NBA Draft. Which players will make an instant impact and who will be sleepers in the NBA?
Markelle Fultz will have an instant impact in the league. He’s a smooth player that can play at multiple paces.
Thanks James for the chat.