James Robinson is a 26 year old 190cm guard from Mitchellville, Maryland that is playing his fifth professional season and first with the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. Last season he played with medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) playing 21 games averaging 10.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 4.6apg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 92.6%; and played 14 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 6.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 5.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 37.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 85.3%. In the 2018-2019 season he played with Bnei Hertzeliya (Israel-Winner League): playing 24 games averaging 9.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 25.3%, FT: 76.9%. In the 2017-2018 season he had his first tour of duty with medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) playing 38 games averaging 9.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 84.9%; and played 17 BCL games averaging 10.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.1apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 74.4%. He played his rookie season 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) from 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 germanhoops.com before a easyCredit BBL game against the Fraport Skyliners.
James thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. How is basketball life for you currently?
Basketball life is good at the moment. It has been a big adjustment not playing in front of fans. But at the end of the day basketball is basketball and I play for the love of the game.
Our last interview seems ages ago. It was in March 2018 when you were with medi Bayreuth. Has time really elapsed quickly since then?
I would say that time has gone by fast. I have been lucky to have met many great people where ever I have been. I was a year in Israel. I have taken my many experiences that I have had over the years and hope for many more.
How tough has COVID-19 been for you in 2020. What were the biggest challenges that you were faced with your basketball life on and off the court?
The biggest challenge was facing the level of uncertainty on a daily basis. Also important was being super safe where ever I was. I had to be as cautious as possible and just be as smart as possible so as not to put any of my family or friends at risk.
With everything that you have faced how do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?
Being able to adjust on the fly. Twice we have had games postponed because of COVID-19 so being able to adjust to those situations have been tough. Also just waking up each day and appreciating what we have.
Your playing your third season in Germany and first with the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. What kind of an enrichment has it been playing with a young team where the organization likes to feature young players.
I think that it has been a great experience having the opportunity to be around some of the best young talent in Germany. Of course growing pains and a lack of experience will come, but overall it is a great challenge for us to get better and continue to work hard to achieve our goals.
As a point guard how much of a duty is it for you not to perform well for owner Dennis Schroeder, but really well?
Regardless of who the owner is, you always want to play well. It is cool playing on Dennis Schroeder’s team. I’m sure what he and the Lakers do this season will be big time. That adds excitement to being the point guard for his team. I want to lead the team as best as possible and help it be successful.
The club is playing well and recently had a 4 game winning streak. It pretty beat teams they had to and lost to better teams. What do you feel is this teams biggest strength on the court?
We are still trying to find our true indentity but overall our biggest strength is that we play hard, care and want to win. Our biggest focus each week has to be to get that 1 win per week. We will continue to do our best and try to continue to improve each week.
The club also has really bought into the system and philosophy of head coach Pete Strobl. What have you gone on to appreciate most about his worth ethic and plan?
The thing I appreciate most about coach Pete is how much effort and time he puts in to have us prepared well. He and the coaching staff do a great job doing everything possible so we are best prepared before each game so all we have to do is go out and execute.
The team is scoring a lot, but also giving up a lot on defense. What does the club have to tweak most on the defensive end to be able to be even better against the better teams?
The biggest thing for us to get better at on the defensive end is our level of consistency. There are a lot of good teams in the BBL and they will come out and have their runs. We have to do a better job limiting their runs. We have one of the best second half defenses in the BBL. We have to translate that good defense more to our first half. If we can do that then our defense will improve.
You have seen the development of German Karim Jallow in the last years. How impressed are you with his development and where has he grown the most on the court?
I remember Karim from last year and he was our focal point on the scouting report. I really appreciate his work ethic and how much he cares and wants to win. He is a very good leader and what really impresses me is his day to day will to want to improve.
You also saw the development of Lukas Meissner in Bayreuth. He really has the freedom to play his game with Braunschweig. How is he a better player now then last season?
Last season in Bayreuth was a very good experience for Lukas. He showed many flashes of his talent last season. He had a different role to this season. I remember him dominating practices in Bayreuth. This season he has more of a chance to really showcase his talent. He is back home here and is feeling very comfortable. I really enjoy playing with him.
How much easier does a guy like Byron Allen make your game. You have played together with many lethal scorers, but where does he rank with all that you have played with?
He is a really talented player and everyone sees him as the scorer, but I see him as the basketball player. He is like a decoy for me. He is the oldest player on the team and brings a different level of experience to the team. He has Eurocup experience and can do so much more than just be that lethal scorer. He can pass and play defense as well. He is an overall talented player.
Let’s talk about your game. Your playing a very good season. Your averaging the most assists ever. What do you credit your stellar playmaking success to thus far?
Honestely I credit my success to my teammates. They cut when they need to cut and hit the shots when they need to. They don’t make my job easier, but just help me out a lot. That speaks for their great work ethic. In the system that we play in, it also helps that we know where the other will be.
How much of a challenge is it organizing an offense that has many young players and not an abundance of Americans something you have been used to where ever you have played in your success?
It really hasn’t been too much of a challenge. My German teammates are so talented, smart and have a high IQ that bringing that stereotype of young Germans is wrong and unfair. We have already developed a good chemistry and want to play well and win. For me it has been nothing but a great experience playing with these talented young players.
In our last interview you stated that ‘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’. How do you feel did your game grow under Raoul Korner in your two tours of duty in Bayreuth?
His mind is impressive. He did a good job making me see the game in a different way and opening up my mind and helping me see things differently. He definitely has made me a lot better in those 2 years.
You never have been that explosive scorer, but do you feel like you could make more ground as a scorer in Braunschweig?
I feel that I’m more than capable of being that good scorer, but that isn’t most important. I will do what the team needs me to win. If that means being the playmaker and being the vocal leader then I will do that. I want to win at all costs.
Your leadership abilities have always been a big aspect of your game. How do you feel have they came best to form with so many young Germans this season?
Important has been being able to learn from many over the years. Key in Bayreuth was learning from Bastian Doreth. It was big in my leadership development being around him on a day to day basis. I also credit many of my coaches in the States where I have bene able to incorporate that information and put it into effect.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most now so you can continue to move up the basketball ladder in the next years?
I want to be that complete point guard and do what my team needs to win. I also want to continue to be a good leader.
In your first professional meeting against good friend Kam Taylor in 2018 you lost to him and 2 years later lost to him again against Bamberg. Has he been getting on you about not winning?
No not all. Secretly Kam is way to nice of a guy to do that. We are family. He currently has the bragging rights. We both know the record. At the end of the win lose or draw Kam is family.
How has Kam Taylor’s game progressed in the last 2 years? Does he have the game to move up to even higher levels?
For sure he can go up levels. When I see what he can do today, it is amazing how much he has improved since high school. His athleticism, coordination and defense has gotten a lot better. He has the complete package. The way he presents himself of the court is very special. He is an even better guy off the court.
Has your relationship grown with your connection to Germany the last years?
I think that our relationship has grown more by default. We have always remained close and are always together during the summer. No matter where we are we talk each day. Our conversations don’t even consist so much about basketball, but more about family and friends. Now that we are both playing in Germany we have more common ground.
You played a season with Bnei Hertzeliya (Israel-Winner League) playing 24 games averaging 9.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 25.3%, FT: 76.9%. Americans always rave about Israel. How do you feel did your game grow there?
Israel was definitely a different kind of experience. I really liked everything there. I liked the league and team, but unfortunately we didn’t win so much. Having to deal with adversary made the experience tough. At the end of the day it was a good learning experience dealing with adversary.
You were teammates with NCAA champion and ex NBA player Jeff Adrien and ex NBA player Hilton Armstrong. What did it mean being their teammates and what NBA stories did they share?
When I went there, I was really excited to be able to have them as teammates. I remember growing up and watching them play at UConn and watching those Big East battles against Syracuse. I remember them always talking about how difficult it was getting to the NBA and how hard they worked for it. If you had to pick a great veteran and leader for your team then you would pick Hilton Armstrong.
Who wins a one on one today you or Kam Taylor.
Kam may be family, but I will always say myself. If we play one on one nobody will know the score.
Can anyone beat the Lakers with Lebron, Davis and Schroeder this year? Where will their journey go?
The Lakers have an impressive roster and one of the more complete rosters. In the NBA anything can happen, but they are one of the favorites.
One of the toughest players you faced in the NCAA was CJ McCollum. Do you feel like his legacy as a player gets lost a little with how Damian Lillard has evolved in the last years?
From a fan perspective possibly. Everyone has seen how Lillard has hit those long three’s and reached celebrity status, but you need to appreciate what McCollum is doing on the court. He is still able to pick and chose his spots and make an impact in the game.
What are your favorite Christmas childhood memories? Is there something that you really miss about back in the day?
The family aspect. It is tough being away from family overseas, but luckily we have face time.to stay connected. My best X-mas memory is just being around loved ones.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Thanks James for the chat.