Gerry Broome/Associated Press
A Bob Cousy Award watch list selection and a two-time international gold medalist, point guard James Robinson is already one of the most decorated players in recent Pitt history entering his junior season. He's always handled the ball with such awesome responsibility that he was an easy target for Jamie Dixon dating back to his freshman year at DeMatha Catholic (Mitchellville, Md.) High School.
His assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks among Pitt's all-time greatest, speaks to his skill level. However, in the realm of shooting the rock, "Mr. Consistent," as his high school coach once called him, has been consistently inconsistent. That's the skill the Panthers need him to build.
"I have a long way to go individually. I'm fortunate enough to be on a really good team, which helps," Robinson said after leading Team System One to the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro Am championship with a 115-109 win over Team Shale Attorneys July 23 at Montour (McKees Rocks, Pa.) High School.
Throughout summer ball Robinson meshed particularly well with forward and fellow returnee Michael Young, the main beneficiary of the former's title-game-high 11 assists.
"The biggest thing has been just competing, and playing against a lot of other really good players," Robinson added.
With his team down 13 at the half, he led a scoring rampage that ended with a team-best 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line. His counterpart, Duquesne point guard Rene Castro, set what is believed to be a PBC Pro Am record with 56 points after launching 33 shots from the field and converting 21.
Hopefully Castro taught Robinson a thing or two offensively. The Butler transfer was 7-of-15 behind the arc in defeat, whereas Robinson only attempted two three-pointers all night and missed them both.
Robinson made the second-most threes on his team in 2013-14, but he didn't pull the trigger much, and he only attempted 2.0 threes per game in conference play. It's never been too big of an ask for him to make big shots in big spots, and in that respect, he needs to do a better job of breaking from his characteristic unselfishness.
Could he and Young get each other going this season?