Alex Robinson is one of the best people in college basketball, and in this, his senior season, he’s making a case that he’s one of the best players, as well.
In a world that celebrates monster dunks and proficient three point percentages, Robinson doesn’t stand out. At just 6’1” and 180 pounds, the Fort Worth native can dunk - but doesn’t do it often, preferring to be crafty with his left hand around the rim. He’s an elite finisher in the lane, despite being a smaller guy, understanding how to shield defenders with his body and showcasing surprising strength through contact. He also has outstanding vision and is an exceptional passer, traits that have led him to climb up the all-time assists record chart at TCU over the past three seasons - a list he currently sits third on, with an eye on second place as he continues to pile up the dimes.
Robinson is a great point guard because he was trained to be a great passer - to penetrate into the lane and look for opportunities for others to make plays. But in 2018, he has added a three point shot and improved from the free throw line, making him almost impossible to defend - and making things even easier for his teammates.
A four star prospect who began his collegiate career at Texas A&M, Alex matriculated back to TCU, where his mother starred in the 80s, after a tough first year - on and off the court. He was an impact player from day one, averaging over 30 minutes per game in each of his three seasons, but making most of his impact on offense in year one. Robinson had a habit of over-dribbling and driving to score, not to pass, leading him to average over 11 points per game. But, he shot under 42% from the field, just at 33% from three, and was horrible from the free throw line - 63%, well below the expectations for a player with the ball in his hands that often. He won, though, helping lead the Frogs to an NIT Championship and stepping up in a big way during their postseason run after freshman phenom Jaylen Fisher went down with a wrist injury.
Robinson improved in all areas of his game in year two, voicing his desire to set the single-season assist record over the course of his junior campaign - something he came within six of doing. Though he shot slightly worse from the free throw and three point line, he was a better defender and passer, as he and Fisher provided a dangerous tandem for Jamie Dixon on both ends of the floor on their way to the NCAA Tournament.
Now, here in year three, and his final season of TCU Basketball, Robinson has had almost an awakening of sorts when it comes to his play on both ends of the floor. After averaging just over six assists per game last year, he sports the second highest rate in the country in 2018 at 8.6 per, just behind Murray State’s Ja Morant’s 9.5. That total is best in the Big 12 by a wide margin - no other conference player drops more than 4.5 dimes a contest. Going into the year, Robinson was an afterthought in the Big 12, behind guys like Lindell Wiggington at ISU, Kerwin Roach at Texas, and even his teammate, Jaylen Fisher. Respected enough to be a Bob Cousy watchlist member, Robinson continues to play with a chip on his shoulder in this, his senior season. Still prolific to the cup, he is shooting a higher percentage from the floor (54.9%), the three point line (50%, on 20 attempts), and - maybe most importantly of all - from the free throw line, where he has knocked down a nice 69.4% of his opportunities. He is in the top 12 of scoring in the conference, averaging nearly 14 points per game, is third in steals, swiping nearly two per contest, and is one of the better rebounding guards in the conference at 3.6 per. He is playing really good, really efficient, really unselfish basketball for a program that looks to be one of the best in the country’s top basketball conference.
Things will certainly get tougher for the Frogs once the calendar turns; TCU currently sits 51st in strength of schedule, a number that will likely be in the top 20 after conference play. Their best win, against USC, came over a team that sits 5-5, and they have played just one true road game on the season. This week, they play their first true tournament, traveling to Hawaii where they will compete in a field that includes just two teams that made the Tourney in 2018, and doesn’t have another program in the bracket that’s sniffing the top 25. The Frogs could see Bucknell - a really solid, likely Tournament team - and either Colorado or UNLV, both good programs but nothing to hang your hat on when seeding comes around. It’s one of those brackets they need to go out and win to make a statement before opening conference play in January again Baylor.
Robinson’s stats may dip a bit as the competition ramps up, but it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t been the Big 12’s best point guard through the first two months of the season. His scoring and passing ability open things up for the plethora of talented shooters Jamie Dixon employs, and his leadership and steadiness as the floor general is a difference maker for a team that expects to win meaningful games down the stretch.
There’s a long way to go, but TCU is lucky to have a player like Alex Robinson to take them there.