Thomas Robinson Is Now the Best Post Player in College Basketball

Ro ShiellAnalyst IJanuary 18, 2012

Robinson tangles with Perry Jones in an early Big 12 showdown
Robinson tangles with Perry Jones in an early Big 12 showdownJamie Squire/Getty Images

Back in November, I wrote that Thomas Robinson of the Kansas Jayhawks could be the surprise first pick in the next NBA draft.

That was complete speculation but now that we are deep into the season, it is clear that Robinson is one of the most exciting power forwards in college basketball, if not the best.

Anthony Davis may be the frontrunner for the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft but Robinson will give him a run for his money.

Robinson rebounds at a higher rate than Davis and has more refined post moves while Davis relies on his superior athletic ability to score off mainly put-backs, alley-oops and the occasional jump shot.

Defensively, Davis is in a class by himself and just set a school record with 84 blocks. However, if both players swapped teams, I think Kentucky would be better off.

They still have Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd Gilchrist among other McDonald’s All Americans but Thomas would bring consistent offense whereas Davis might struggle with double-teams on Kansas.

Kansas lost to Kentucky in their second game of the season and Davis came out on top of that matchup. Robinson fouled out in his second game as a full-time starter, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Davis had 14 points, six rebounds and seven blocks but he had a better supporting cast.

Robinson has gotten better as the season has progressed and that was the only game he was disqualified from.

With averages of 17.8 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, the junior forward has to be considered for National Player of the Year honours (though Doug McDermott of Creighton may have already stamped his name on this accolade).  

On top of that, Kansas has played one of the more difficult schedules against some prestigious teams with lottery-projected forwards, aside from Kentucky.

The Jayhawks defeated Ohio State at home but All American forward Jared Sullinger was absent due to injury. Robinson led Kansas with 21 points and six rebounds.

"I don't think you put an asterisk with the win," Bill Self said after the game. "Ohio State can certainly say, and rightfully so, 'Jared didn't play.' And we know he didn't play, and they're a much better team with him. We wanted him to play. But just because he plays doesn't guarantee anything."

Sullinger currently averages 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, not far off Robinson’s averages but whereas Robinson plays above the rim, Sullinger is more flatfooted with a bevy of post moves to get around his man.

Robinson also faced off with Duke’s Mason Plumlee in a thrilling final in the Maui Invitational tournament.

The matchup was just about even between the two premier forwards in a game in which Duke required last-minute heroics to win.

Plumlee did have a great block against Robinson in the closing minutes of the game, but both forwards represented their respective schools well.

On Monday, Kansas ended No. 3 Baylor’s run of 17 straight victories leaving Syracuse and Murray State as the only undefeated teams in college basketball.

Robinson had 27 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and a block. Robinson looked like a man amongst boys even though Baylor boasts one of the tallest frontlines in college basketball.

With NBA scouts in attendance, Robinson dominated his matchup with Perry Jones, another projected lottery pick, and took Kansas to the top of the Big 12 standings. Both Teams were undefeated in conference play but now Kansas takes the lead with a 5-0 record.

Jones did all right with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks but Baylor still lost by 18 points. Not a bad effort considering it was the “loudest place” he had ever played in, referring to Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

The one other big man who may challenge Robinson is freshman Andre Drummond of UConn. The 6'11" forward has a lot of potential but he isn't yet in Robinson's class.

Robinson currently leads the Big 12 in rebounding and is second in the NCAA. If he continues to play at such a high rate, keep an open mind about the first pick in a loaded 2012 NBA draft.

Or If Kansas is that lucky, the 2013 Draft, after all, due to the high number of key returning players in college basketball, the next draft will be loaded and a lot of players might prefer their chances in 2013.