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Junior Thomas Robinson Declares for NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinsondeclared for the NBA Draft at a press conference in Allen Fieldhouse Monday morning.

After playing three seasons at Kansas, Robinson will give up his final year of collegiate eligibility and finish his career as the 55thJayhawk to score 1,000 points in a career. Robinson’s name will forever decorate the career and single-season record list for points and rebounds. The 6-10 Washington, D.C., native finished his Kansas career with 1,026 points, 763 rebounds, 100 assists, 74 blocks and 32 double-doubles. His 763 career rebounds rank 14th all-time, while his 32 double-doubles rank seventh. After playing behind Cole Aldrich and Marcus and Markieff Morris his first two seasons, Robinson made the most of his junior season. He ranks in the top 12 in four categories on the single-season list: 692 points (eighth), 463 rebounds (second), 27 double-doubles (first) and 261 field goals made (11th). Robinson’s 27 double-doubles led the nation in 2011-12, while his 11.9 rebounds per game ranked second nationally.

His 27 double-doubles this season moved him ahead of Drew Gooden (25 in 2002) for first place on the single-season list. Earlier this season, Robinson posted one of the most impressive games by a Jayhawk in a long time as he joined elite company when he scored 30 points and pulled down 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). He became the first Jayhawk to score at least 30 points and record 20 rebounds since Wayne Hightower scored 36 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against Missouri on Feb. 13, 1961. In KU history there have been at least nine other 30-20 games and two games that could not be confirmed – seven of those games were by Wilt Chamberlain, one by Hightower and one by Clyde Lovellette. Robinson is the sixth player in Big 12 history to accomplish the feat joining former conference player(s) of the year Kevin Durant (Texas), Michael Beasley (Kansas State) and Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) in addition to Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan.

Robinson was a unanimous Associated Press First Team All-American becoming the first since Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2009. He was the lone unanimous selection in 2011-12. Robinson is Kansas’ first AP First Team All-American since Wayne Simien in 2005.

He was part of three Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 Championship titles, two Elite Eights and one Final Four at Kansas. Robinson lost just one time in Allen Fieldhouse, posting a three-year record of 50-1. His overall three-year Kansas record of 100-13 are the most wins in a three-year period in Kansas’ rich men’s basketball history.

During his sophomore season Robinson was the Jayhawks’ sixth-man. He averaged 14.6 minutes in 33 games with two starts and was the Jayhawks’ most productive player off the bench, averaging 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He notched four double-doubles on the season and his 60.1 shooting percentage ranked second highest on the team. Robinson missed the Jayhawks’ win at Colorado (1/25) to attend the funeral of his mother, Lisa. In the four games following his mother’s death, he averaged 12.8 points on 17-of-25 shooting and 7.8 rebounds per game. He was selected as one of 10 finalists for the V Foundation Comeback Award.

In his freshman campaign he played in 33 games with one start, while averaging 7.2 minutes, 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. He appeared in 14 conference contests and four of five postseason games, while earning his first career start at Nebraska (1/13). Robinson’s first career double-double came with a career-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 10 rebounds against Alcorn State (12/2).

Robinson will leave Lawrence after guiding the 2011-12 team to an appearance in the National Championship game and an overall record of 32-7.

Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson
Opening statement:
“First I just want to thank everybody for coming out and caring so much about what I am going to do. Like Coach (Bill Self) said, I have been blessed enough to have the option to forgo my senior season and enter the NBA Draft. With that being said, that is what I will do this year. I will be entering the 2012 NBA Draft.

I have been up all night trying to come up with a thank you note or something to show my appreciation, but I couldn’t get anything out because I think it is beyond words what this program meant to me and how much support I felt coming from my situation. Even when I arrived on campus, somehow, someway, everybody makes each player feel special here. It is going to be hard leaving and I am going to miss my teammates, the coaching staff, the fans and just the town period, but this puts me in a situation to take care of my family. I also want to thank Coach Self for never letting up on me. At times I hated it, but that was the best for me and it helped me get where I am now. Thanks to him, I have a chance to take care of my family.”

On his decision to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA Draft:
“If I could find a way, I wouldn’t mind staying here because who wouldn’t care to stay here? I feel like it is the best place, other than home, and now it’s my second home. I have a family here, so it wasn’t that easy.”

On his sister, Jayla, being able to attend this morning’s press conference:
“It means a lot and it was a last minute thing. Today is her birthday, she is nine years old so she should be able to remember this one pretty well.”

On whether or not he has hired an agent yet:
“I still have some options to go through, so as of right now, no. It has been pretty hectic, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks or so I will.”

On how much his game has improved during the past season:
“I was just laughing about me even having the thoughts last year of leaving school and I wouldn’t have been ready at all. This year was one of my toughest mentally, but physically I played more, so that whole transformation time helped me mature.”

On what he will bring to an NBA franchise:
“I am going to be a workhorse and I am going to do what everybody else is not going to want to do. I am going to show up every day, ready to play.”

What he will miss most about playing at Kansas:
“I think probably just being able to walk around campus and getting that feeling that everybody loves you. That and probably the pre-game talks with Coach saying the same thing he says before every game, but saying it 100 miles per hour and I can’t hear it. Running through the tunnel, just certain things like that, which I won’t be able to get back.”

On if he’s accomplished everything he wanted to at Kansas:
“I couldn’t totally agree with that all the way just because I didn’t win a National Championship. Coming into college as a basketball player, that should be a goal and it definitely was one for me. Besides that, I feel like I did everything I wanted to do plus more. I feel like I kind of got too much love for it and I didn’t even do that much but looking back on it, Coach Self kept telling that I didn’t have enough time to think about what I’ve accomplished. Looking back on it though, it was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

On if he plans to pursue his degree:
“Definitely; I’m not that many hours away and with the help of our academic advisors here, it should be no problem. As far as the degree, that’s something my mother would want me to get so I’ll definitely have to find the time to come back and get that.”

On when he will start workouts for the draft:
“Everything is all new to me right now so I don’t have a schedule but I do know that I’ll have to be in the gym like I’ve never been in it before to try and train my mind and my body to help me get ready for what’s about to come.”

On what he wants to provide the most for Jayla:
“Whatever she wants; I really don’t know, I’m just happy I have the option and I don’t have to worry about anything anymore for the most part.”

On if there is a specific team he wants to play for:
“No, I really don’t have a preference. I’m just happy to be in the league, I don’t care who takes me because I’m going to make the best of my situation.”

On whether or not he’s talked to former KU players Marcus and Markieff Morris about preparing for the draft:
“Yeah but not a lot, I haven’t really had enough time to get too deep with it. The one thing they keep telling me is to make sure I’m ready for whatever my situation is and make sure I’m ready to handle it. I think my experience here should help me better with it – I’m not saying I’m going to completely understand everything – definitely having been here will help me.”

Head Coach Bill Self
Opening statement:
“I think you all know why we are here. This is a glorious day; it is beautiful outside, but also because of a young man’s commitment, effort and hard work, he has a chance to make an announcement today. The thought of any player coming in here where we can put them in a position to make a decision, and Thomas has certainly earned that right.”

On his reaction when he was told of Thomas Robinson’s decision:
“First of all, I thought he called everyone together to announce that he was coming back – so I am crushed right now. No, in all honesty, I have known this would happen since last summer. I’ve said publicly at times that our goal is to put him in a position where this would be the case. Even if he would, and there is no shot that he would, but after careful deliberation he told me that he wanted to come back; I would strongly encourage him not to. This is the best time for him, he has done everything plus some, that we could have ever expected to give to our program – both as a player and as an ambassador. He is a guy who is probably as loved as anybody who has played here in a long, long time and I think that the entire Jayhawk nation should see this as a great day for everybody. More so with Thomas than any other player who has played here, I think Kansas looks at Thomas as one of their very own because they watched him grow up right before their eyes. Everyone should be so excited for him and his family. He said all along that his mission was to put himself in a position to take care of his family and to take care of Jayla, and I think he has earned a right to do so.”

On any advice that he would give Robinson in regards to hiring an agent:
“Personally, that is between himself, his family and the person that will represent him. My thinking is that – and I could be dead wrong on this – one reason that Thomas has been so successful is that people here haven’t told him what he wanted to hear. I think the agent representation is the same way. Anybody that tells you it is all hunky-dory, that would be the firm that I would stay the furthest away from. I hope he would want to be with somebody that would (put him on a budget), and I think he just thrives in that type of environment. If he asks me, which he didn’t and I just shared with him, that would be the direction I would go with. He knows what works for him, so why get away from that?”

On the void that losing Robinson will bring to Kansas basketball:
“There is always going to be a void when 18-year old kids come in and whenever their time is right they leave as young men and move on. There was a huge void when Marcus and Markieff (Morris) left, there was a void when Cole (Aldrich) and Sherron (Collins) left, when Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers), Julian (Wright), Shady (Darrell Arthur) and all those guys left. There is always going to be a void; I think that is one thing that makes college athletics to great. You think how you (can recover from losing a player), and then somebody else comes in and make the most of the opportunity. We aren’t going to replace 18 points and 12 rebounds; we aren’t going to recruit a freshman that looks like this when he is 18-years old. We will have guys that grow into their own separate version of what Thomas can give to us. We are never going to have another him, no reason to try and duplicate it. We can have some guys who can do some other things that can impact our program in a very positive way. There is always going to be a void when guys leave. Sometimes when guys leave, it creates as happy of a moment as there is. When you really think about everything that this man has been through, going back about 15 months, and think about the sacrifices that he has made, you think about the long nights, the sleepless nights, and all of the things that are going on. To remain focused, to do well in school and to represent our University in a way that almost brought a national championship home. To see him live out his dream, to me, what is happening now with him is just as cool as what happened last Monday night in the game. This is as good as it gets for an individual and also a program and a fan base that has supported him so much.”

On Robinson having the chance to be the highest-drafted player in his coaching tenure:
“I think Deron (Williams) went third (at Illinois). But Thomas has the chance to be the highest-drafted player that we’ve had at Kansas. We’ve had some guys who were drafted pretty high, who were lottery picks. I think Thomas has put himself in a position to be in the lower-end of the top five. Hopefully he can impress enough in the workouts to go higher. To me, more than anything is to put himself in a position to show what he can do. He has some things that you can’t teach or can’t coach, but he still has so much that he can learn. I think he will be a hugely successful NBA player.”

About Derek Nester

Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communication. After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. 6 radio stations. In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on 69 radio stations across 9 Midwest states.