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#KU50: 36 Russell Robinson

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36 days until Kansas Basketball!

Kansas v North Carolina Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Russell Robinson came to Lawrence from the Bronx, and I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that someone making that sort of transition had his issues right away. He was homesick, butted heads with Self a bit, and almost transferred. Robinson stuck it out, though, and forced his way into the lineup. It's not surprising, given his toughness, that he also forced his way into Bill Self's list of favorites.

How is a guy who averaged fewer than 8 points per game in his career this high up the list? By being maybe the best perimeter defender in KU history. Robinson spent all three of his years as a regular in the top 10 in the Big 12 in defensive win shares, and he had a steal rate above 4 percent all four of his years in Lawrence despite not being a gambler on defense. More than any KU player I have ever seen, Robinson simply took opposing point guards out of the game, stopped them from scoring, and even stopping teams from getting into their offense.

It’s tough to talk about a guy like Robinson using only words. His defense was his calling card, and it is tough to get good advanced defensive stats for college players, and it is much tougher to do so for players who played even a few years ago. That said, Bill Self has called him one of the best perimeter defenders he’s ever coached, and given Self’s knowledge about defense, that carries a lot of weight with me.

Last but not least, a personal story about RussRob. He was the first athlete I ever interviewed (and one of the few because quite frankly I usually hate doing it) but he could not have been nicer, more sincere, more engaging, or more awesome to talk to. I didn’t boost him up any spots because of it, but if being a nice guy counted on this list, he’d be a very deserving #1. But a very deserving #36 works too.

Previous:

37. Eric Chenowith

38. Scot Pollard

39. Tyshawn Taylor

40. Darrell Arthur

41. Devonte Graham

42. Jerod Haase

43. Kenny Gregory

44. Wayne Selden

45. Otto Schnellbacher

46. Ryan Robertson

47. Xavier Henry

48. Mark Turgeon

49. Paul Mokeski

50. Charlie T. Black