Aubrey Dawkins once witnessed Duncan Robinson make 41 consecutive 3-pointers before he missed a basket. It was an eye-opening experience.
“Duncan can really shoot the ball, and I thought I could shoot,” Dawkins said Friday before the Wolverines’ first practice of the season. “I couldn’t match that.”
Robinson, a 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore swingman, will be eligible this year after transferring from Williams College before last season and sitting out per NCAA transfer rules.
After averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 34.7 minutes per game during his freshman year at the Division III level, he waited his turn and made some pretty considerable transformations.
Robinson weighed in at 185 pounds at Williams, but just a year later, the guard built himself up to 210 pounds for this season.
“All I know is Duncan can really shoot and really pass, and D.J. (Wilson) can really shoot, he can pass OK right now for a young guy,” said Michigan coach John Beilein in a radio interview on WKTA. “The biggest issues for both of them are, ‘I used to be a string bean and people used to push me around and so I didn’t like physical play … well now I weigh 20 or 30 pounds more and have to learn how to embrace physical play.’ ”
Playing in Division I games will be reality soon enough, but in practice, Robinson has impressed everyone from Beilein to senior captain Spike Albrecht to former Wolverine and current Philidelphia 76ers guard Nik Stauskas.
“We need to schedule something,” Stauskas told the Daily this summer. “(Robinson) might even beat me — at least that’s what the guys have been telling me.”
Albrecht, who, like Stauskas, is famous in his own right for sinking unorthodox 3-pointers, spent time in the gym with Robinson and can attest to his teammate’s talent. Though the Wolverines don’t plan on living and dying by the 3, Michigan will undoubtedly have plenty of options beyond the arc.
“Dunc’s just gonna be another weapon for us out there, especially offensively,” Albrecht said. “He has versatility. He’s long. He’s got length. He can obviously shoot the ball, everyone knows that. He’s a really high-IQ basketball player, so we’re looking forward to getting him out on the court with us.”
But with a roster that showcases plenty of guards, including senior Caris LeVert, junior Derrick Walton Jr., Albrecht and sophomore classmates Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Dawkins, the competition for playing time will be fierce. Minutes will be hard to come by, but Robinson has been nothing short of impressive.
During the Wolverines’ open practice on Friday, Robinson drained unopposed shots from all over the floor with ease. That could always change in live game action, but that isn’t something Robinson's teammates are concerned about right now. They've seen his ability and don't think it will stop.
“We got some new weapons and some guys who add some stuff to our offense, so this year will be really exciting for us,” Walton said. “Aubrey and Caris can shoot, but Duncan is different — real different.
“You almost get confused when he misses.”