Previous entries: Elijah Johnson
As we move onto the second in the Season Report Card series, we find freshman forward Thomas Robinson the subject of the red-ink pen. Thomas was another early commit during his senior season - October 10, 2008; actually a full week earlier than yesterday's subject Elijah Johnson. Thomas if from Washington D.C., but came to Kansas by way of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. In his senior year at Brewster, he averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks per game.
When Thomas came to Lawrence in the summer of 2009, he did so as the most hyped recruit in the Jayhawks' recruiting class that had signed a Letter of Intent. (Remember, Xavier Henry couldn't sign a LOI with Kansas, because he had signed one with Memphis.) And, it was fairly easy to see why. He has a motor that never stops, incredible length for a 6'9" guy and a nose for the ball. I had this to say about Thomas immediately after the season ended:
Of the three players in question, the lack of use of Robinson baffles me the most. A potential floor of arebounding machine and a ceiling of a Drew Gooden multi-talented All-American type.
That's the kind of ability that I, and a lot of Kansas fans alike, think Thomas has. And, at times during his freshman campaign, we saw flashes of that.
In the 22 games in which Thomas logged more than 3 minutes of game time, he averaged slightly over 1.2 turnovers per game, up nearly half a turnover a game from his entire season average. That was Thomas' achilles' heel all season long. Coming into games he would should that unbridled bundle of energy that he was known for, but did so in an over-anxious, sometimes out of control manner. No doubt that during practice he had his bright moments going up against fellow bigs Marcus and Markieff Morris and Cole Aldrich, while working under the tutilege of the historic Danny Manning. That progress shown in practice earned Thomas lots of minutes early in the season where he impressed more often than not, until the turnover bug bit him about the time conference play started.
On the season, Thomas appeared in 33 of the Jayhawks' 36 games. He played in the first 23 games of the season before missing two straight games against Texas and Iowa State after suffering a concussion in practice. (Non-stop motor, anyone?) With Thomas, it was really a tale of two different seasons - non-conference and conference - as in the case with most freshman players in Division 1 basketball power conferences. Non-conference: 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks in 10.8 minutes per game. Conference: 1.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.1 blocks in 4.9 minutes per game. There's the combination of tougher competition and "hitting the freshman wall."
The high point of Thomas' season undoubtedly came on December 2 against Alcorn State when he recorded the first double-double of his young college career, dropping in 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds (7 of the offensive variety) against the Braves. To go along with the double-double, he committed only 1 turnover in 18 minutes, while shooting 6-7 from the field, but only 3-11 from the free throw line. (Reason for the 39.5% free throw percentage, anyone?) And, leave it to a freshman to nearly foul out (he had 4 fouls in the 18 minutes) in the best game of his career. Honorable mention would be his only other double digit performance of the season, 10 points and 7 rebounds without a turnover in 16 minutes on December 9 against Radford.
With the recent announcement of Cole Aldrich's intentions to enter the 2010 NBA draft, there are now nearly 27 minutes per game open at the 5-spot. Thomas is better suited to play the 5 than the Morris twins, given their skill-set as more perimeter oriented players than Thomas. So, it looks as if, barring the addition of an elite big man recruit before the beginning of next season, Thomas will compete with fellow soon-to-be sophomore Jeff Withey for minutes up front. And, when Withey is in the game, Thomas can slide over to the 4-spot, giving both Morris twins a rest or one to play the 3-spot. Either way, there are minutes galore to be had by Thomas next year - if he can make a meteoric leap from mistake-prone freshman to reliable sophomore. (Marcus Morris, anyone?)
Final 2010 Grade: C-
As I have said, Thomas has the potential to be the next great Jayhawk post player. He showed those flashes off and on throughout the season. But, his tendency to turn the ball over and commit silly fouls kept him from playing more often. He's got a long way to go on the mental side of the game, as far as positioning, technique and just where to be on the court. Luckily, he's got assistant coach Danny Manning to work with every day this summer. Really, the sky is the limit for Thomas.