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From Prep to Pro: Duncan Robinson

It’s always hard to see someone else living out your dream; whether it’s some random senior getting with your scheme or your best friend getting accepted to your dream school, it sucks. Personally, I couldn’t care less about crushes or colleges. All I want (and all I have ever wanted) is to show up at a basketball court, play a pick up game with a bunch of random dudes who have vastly underestimated my abilities and walk away with them saying “damn, that kid was nice.” Duncan Robinson achieves my dream on a daily basis and gets paid a couple million dollars to do so.

If you haven’t been following the NBA that closely this season, you probably haven’t heard of Duncan Robinson. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault; to most of the basketball world, his name was a pretty unfamiliar one until last December when he went out and decided to hit 10 threes in a game. Made it look pretty casual too. Since then Duncan’s been a bit of a rising star for the Miami Heat, averaging 17 points a game in the month before the (out)break. Even though it might’ve seemed like Robinson just appeared out of thin air one day, behind every great athlete is a story… and in this case a couple of prep schools who use his name to bring in recruits.

Wikipedia tells me that Duncan Robinson grew up in New Hampshire and went to an elementary school with a graduating class of 4 students. He then went on to Rye Junior High School for 7th and 8th grade where he would lead a basketball team coached by his father. Some kid who wrote an article about him for the Exeter Difference described him as the “big man on campus” at Rye Junior High, but that’s about all we know about his pre-prep school years. After his years at Rye, Duncan was faced with a life-changing decision: prep or public. Thankfully, he made the right choice.

Robinson decided to take his talents to Governors Academy in Pretty Much Maine, Massachusetts. I can’t say for certain, but it seems as though he wasn’t recruited for basketball at Govs as he was only 5’7” his freshman year. Like many hometown big shots who attend prep school, Robinson faced a tough reality: prep school kids are simply built different. Due to his lack of size and maybe skill (there isn’t too much film on 13-year-old Duncan), he ended up riding the bench for his first two seasons. Frustrated and in unfamiliar territory, the lil man took his anger out on the rim, putting up 1600 shots a week in the gym. By the middle of his junior season, his work began to pay off as big minutes started to come his way.

Senior year things really started to take off. Robinson averaged 18.5 points a game and began getting recruited to play college basketball. He was first team NEPSAC Class B and first team ISL. At the end of his senior year his recruiting prospects still weren’t really at the level he wanted so he decided to take a PG year at Exeter. Weird place to take an enjoyable post grad if you ask me (but nobody did). By the time he got to Exeter, the already 6’6” Robinson had grown another two inches. By the time application season came around, Big Dunc was still left with no D1 offers and his only full-scholarship was to Merrimack College (a D2 school). When it came time to commit, Duncan did something we’ve all tried to convince our athletic friends to do to no avail: go to a small school with good academics. He committed to Williams College and went on to lead Exeter to an absolutely dominant 28-1 championship season.

Now here’s where the story gets a little crazy. You know that PG who lived down the hall from you this year? Yeah, that one. Always talked about going D1, ended up settling for D3, but now says that was the plan all along. Talks about going to the league jokingly, but you can kinda tell he’s not joking. Well, what if I told you that kid, five years from now, would be starting on the goddamn Miami Heat. Crazy right? Well, Duncan did it.

At Williams he averaged 17 and 6 shooting 55% from the field and 45% from 3 (2 more made free throws and he would’ve been 50-40-90). If you don’t know basketball, that’s, like, pretty good. So good in fact, that Michigan (like THAT Michigan, the University of Michigan, the perennial top 25 Wolverines) offered him a spot on their roster. So Duncan, previously a member of a 4 person graduating class, took the opportunity to enroll in a school with 30,000 kids and one of the best basketball programs in the country.

From his days of being a big fish in a little pond, Duncan now became a medium sized fish in a fucking ocean. So naturally, his production dropped a little bit. He averaged 9.3 points in college, still shooting good percentages from all locations. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to secure him a spot on any NBA roster through the draft, but he did sign with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In one season in the G League, Robinson absolutely tore shit up. He averaged 21 PPG on 48% shooting from 3. It didn’t take the Heat long to realize his potential in the league, bringing the undrafted kid up only 4 games into the season for his debut.

After a pretty quiet rookie year in the NBA, Robinson has been ridiculously good this season. He’s putting up 13 a game with ridiculous efficiency. He set the Heat record for most 3 pointers made in a season in his first real season in the league. And let me be clear, he has shown no signs of slowing down. During the Heat’s first scrimmage in the playoff bubble he hit four 3’s in the first five minutes of the game, After the game, his teammate told reporters that Duncan Robinson was undoubtedly the best shooter in the league. Plus, while the season has officially restarted, he hasn’t slowed down, scoring an efficient 17 points, and 21 points twice, since the break.

To me, all of this sounds like the pitch for a 2k myCareer storyline that would make most players say “why do they make this shit so unrealistic every year?” It’s truly unbelievable. He is living out the day dreams of every Varsity benchwarmer/JV star who swears that when their jumper is on, “it’s better than most NBA players.” So does it hurt to watch Duncan Robinson achieve all of the unrealistic goals and aspirations that I once set for myself? Of course. But if anyone is gonna do it, at least it’s a prep school kid.

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