'He's got all the tools': Robinson a potential X-factor for Arkansas

By: Scottie Bordelon Scottie Bordelon's Twitter account
Published: Friday, October 22, 2021
Arkansas guard Jaxson Robinson attempts a three-pointer Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, during the second half of play at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
( David Beach )
Arkansas guard Jaxson Robinson attempts a three-pointer Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, during the second half of play at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Relative to the other players Arkansas signed in its most recent haul from the NCAA transfer portal, there was perhaps less buzz surrounding its youngest addition.

It is understandable, though, when considering the caliber of experienced talent the Razorbacks were able to nail down in the spring. They brought in one of the nation’s top scorers in Stanley Umude of South Dakota and proven Power 5 contributors Au’Diese Toney (Pittsburgh) and Chris Lykes (Miami), as well as Trey Wade from Wichita State to solidify their frontcourt.

But Jaxson Robinson, a seldom-used piece in his lone season at Texas A&M, may be flying under the radar ahead of the Razorbacks' Nov. 9 season opener against Mercer. There is some thought that the 6-6 shooting guard and former 4-star prospect will emerge on the scene early in his time at Arkansas.

Among the more intriguing players on Eric Musselman’s roster, Robinson possesses both the makeup and skillset to supply valuable minutes for the Razorbacks. His buy-in with the program was immediate.

“He keeps getting better,” Musselman said. “He really, truthfully should be an incoming freshman. He obviously reclassified up. He’s a guy that we had great belief in when he was coming out of high school. Really, really, really good shooter. He continues to evolve defensively, but he’s got good length and he can rebound the ball for his position.

“He’s no maintenance to coach. We’ve all really, really enjoyed coaching Jaxson.”

Each of those qualities has keyed Robinson advancing in Arkansas’ rotation during the team’s preseason training camp. And a solid Red-White Game performance in which he was an ideal off-ball complement to guard JD Notae likely bolstered his stance with the coaching staff.

In his debut in a Razorbacks uniform, he finished with 14 points on 4 of 9 from three-point range and grabbed 4 rebounds last Sunday. Robinson was the lone starter for White Team whose plus/minus figure landed in double figures.

Notae is a fan of and believer in the young wing, noting that he is a great weapon for any offense-initiating guard.

“He's got all the tools you need,” Notae said. “I really like him.”

Umude, who has been around the block in his college basketball career, and Musselman agree that Robinson’s future in the game is bright and littered with possibility given his talent — which the coach recently said is as plentiful as anyone on his team.

In terms of in-game experience, he is green compared to many of his teammates. Though not wholly raw as a player, there is room for growth, making Robinson an interesting case to continually track in a Musselman program that prides itself on professional-style development and maximizing potential.

Toney, another veteran wing with fascinating prospects in 2021-22, admittedly did not watch Robinson play with the Aggies, but the growth he has witnessed in the newcomer from the beginning of the summer to the lead-up to the season is apparent.

“Being around him, it’s just like seeing him as a little brother growing up,” Toney said. “He’s doing very well — like very well — on the court. He knows the game very well, and he’s a knockdown shooter.”

Robinson averaged just 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds last season for a Texas A&M team riddled with covid-19-related issues. The Aggies did not play a game in February, the heart of the SEC schedule. In all, 10 of their games were canceled and nine were due to the virus.

That stretch took away from Robinson what likely would have been crucial run against solid competition and opportunities for development. But prior to the stoppage in play, he received high praise from Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams.

“His demeanor, his spirit, he’s a beautiful human being,” Williams said after the Aggies' win at Auburn on Jan. 2. “He’s starting to figure out how hard you have to play. He’s starting to figure out how hard it is to be successful at this level.

“He’s getting to the point where he knows what to do, and because he’s working harder on a daily basis, true confidence can only come from your work, and that’s why you see him shooting to make it.”

And that is what the Razorbacks are counting on this season in whichever role Robinson carves for himself.

In the minutes he received last season, he preferred the left side of the floor — 29.4% and 19.4% of shot attempts came from the left wing and left corner, respectively — and the right wing (19.4%), according to CBB Analytics, when pulling from distance. In the Red-White Game, many of his looks came in the corners, a terrific location for lethal shooters.

Only one returning player — Connor Vanover — knocked down 10 or more corner threes a season ago. Robinson could provide for Arkansas there as a result of half-court sets and the kind of crafty away-from-the-ball movement that is integral to Musselman’s desired style of play.

“He seems to pick things up maybe quicker than some of the other new guys,” Musselman said. “I would say that he and Stanley are the two guys that, as far as new players, understand our offense more and understand third and fourth options. He’s just got to keep getting stronger, continue to work on putting the ball on the deck when people crowd him.

“But certainly as a stretch-the-floor, perimeter-offensive threat, he does open up driving lanes for people because he can really shoot it.”


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