ESPN.com rates James Robinson as top 'Under the Radar' freshman

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN.com had an interesting look at some of the top freshmen in college basketball not drawing enough recognition. I'd hoped Pitt point guard James Robinson would be on the list, but was pleasantly surprised to see he not only made the cut, but was their top pick (article is behind a paywall but the James Robinson portion is free to view):

Robinson is a difference-maker. He understands his role as a facilitator first by finding the open man and the hot scorer, but he can also score on his own when he's open; he does a great job of defending his position. He leads the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.27 A/TO), and is a durable, reliable player who leads his team in minutes played. His ability to think and play with production at the toughest position in college basketball (in addition to protecting the ball and defending without fouling) separates him from his peers. He is a winner who can be trusted at the end of games and off the court.

Where he needs to improve: He must do a better job of knocking down the open 3-point shot (33 percent from deep) in order to keep the defense from leaving him to double-team someone else.

Robinson has been better than advertised this season. Steven Adams has had his good games for sure, but Robinson has been a bit more consistent of the two to me. He's rarely spectacular, but makes plays you wouldn't even expect out of some seniors. He drives to the basket with full control over his body, doesn't turn the ball over, and finds open men.

One play in particular stood out to me in Pitt's last game against Cincinnati. Robinson was near the top of the key and Steven Adams came up to give him a screen. But instead of Adams then rolling to the basket, he stood around wondering what was coming next. The entire time, you could feel Robinson wanting to get him the ball, but Adams simply never got into position to cut to the basket. In a nutshell, that kind of sums up the two seasons the pair is having. Adams is still learning on the job while Robinson looks as if he's been in college for four seasons.

He's not perfect, as the article points out. The three-point shooting could improve and while his overall shooting (44%) is solid, he could be a little more consistent there (he's dipped under 40% in five of Pitt's 14 games). But all of that said, he's definitely been a great surprise this season.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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