Technically, his name is Claude Robinson III, the namesake of his father and grandfather.
But just like dad, he goes by the first name of Robby. And when Robby hits the court, he plays for his father, who was a legend in the San Diego high school ranks in the late 1980s before a car accident after his freshman season at San Diego Mesa College curtailed what appeared to be a bright future.
“Every time I play basketball, I play for him,” Robinson told Nevada Sports Net this week about playing for his father. “I want to do what he wasn’t able to do. Everywhere I went in San Diego, everybody told me how good of a player he was and I want to pay him back for the time and effort he put into my basketball career. So every time I step on the court I play for him honestly.”
The next time Robinson hits the court he will do so for Nevada, the school he committed to over the weekend. It was a whirlwind recruitment for the 6-foot-8, 225-pound combo forward who was first contacted by the Wolf Pack only two weeks ago. And Robinson, who played last season for San Diego City College, committed to Nevada without an official visit. In fact, he’s never been to Reno before but will arrive in Northern Nevada on Sunday to join the team for summer school and summer practice.
“Two weeks ago, the assistant head coach, Coach (Craig) Neal, called me and talked about what my situation was like and whether I was open to leaving my junior college,” Robinson said. “I told him I was. Then Coach (Steve) Alford called me and offered me. All of a sudden I’ll be out there and moving in.
“When they first called me, I thought it’d be an introduction and we’d contact you later. But then they called me again and again and then I knew it was kind of serious. It’s just a dream come true honestly. I didn’t think I’d be able to get to the D-I level this fast, so I’m very grateful.”
Robinson will add depth to the Wolf Pack frontcourt, which has been thinned by the transfers of Jordan Brown (Arizona) and Shamiel Stevenson (Nebraska) and the graduations of Jordan Caroline, Tre’Shawn Thurman and Trey Porter. Alford has a strong backcourt, but relative inexperience up front with freshmen Zane Meeks and K.J. Hymes, who redshirted at Nevada last season, being the only true bigs.
Robinson will be the most experienced of those three players. After a standout high school career at Kearney High in San Diego, Robinson sat out a season before playing a year of junior college. He will have three season of eligibility at Nevada starting this year and could figure into solid minutes early on.
“A lot of people wrote me off because I took that year off just to get myself together, so I definitely play with a chip on my shoulder and will play that way at Nevada for the next three years,” Robinson said.
At San Diego City College, Robinson averaged 15.3 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per game and was a first-team all-conference player. He shot 45.3 percent from the field, including 39.4 percent from three. He also had a strong senior season of high school (20 points, 13.6 rebounds per game) but had only one Division II offer coming out of the prep ranks despite being a top-500 recruit in the 2017 class, per 247Sports.com.
“Not that much interest,” Robinson said of why he had to take the junior-college path. “I had one offer from a Division II (Academy of Art in San Francisco) and didn’t feel like it was right for me.”
Robinson was planning on a return to San Diego City College this season before Nevada gave him his first D-I offer, expediting his path to the top level of college basketball. Robinson grew up dreaming about playing at Viejas Arena for his hometown school of San Diego State. Instead, he’ll go back home as a visiting player hoping to exact some payback.
“That will mean a lot,” Robinson said of playing at SDSU. “It was kind of my dream to play for the hometown school and I wanted to play in their stadium and I want to go there and show them what they’re missing.”
Robinson’s best asset for Nevada this season could be his rebounding. A four-year high school varsity player, Robinson averaged double-digit rebounds in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons before averaging double-digit boards per game as a first-year junior-college player.
“I feel like I bring a type of old-school game in a sense,” Robinson said. “I play the right way. I try to do it all. I love my teammates. I bring 110 percent and just go to war with my guys.”
Robinson’s goal is to get to the NBA even if he has to take the overseas route to get there. After his father's career was cut short, Robinson wants to squeeze the most of his basketball career to make up for that. Since he committed to Nevada, his father has been ecstatic.
“He’s been calling everybody he knows and letting them know,” Robinson said. “They’re pretty excited.”
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.