Thomas Robinson worked out for the Washington Wizards on Wednesday afternoon in an audition for his hometown team, which could select the 6-foot-9 forward from Kansas with the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft.
Watching the proceedings from the railing above the court were team President Enrie Grunfeld and several other high-ranking front office officials as well as a throng of media.
Power forwards Al’Lonzo Coleman (Presbyterian) and Kevin Thompson (Morgan State) also participted, but all the attention clearly was directed at Robinson, who has expressed significant interest in playing at home despite many potential distractions.
“Being a kid growing up here, I’ve always been a Wizards fan,” said Robinson, adding that Gilbert Arenas and Michael Jordan were among his favorite players. “This is a dream. This is big to me to be here right here right now.”
During the portion of the workout open to the media, Robinson was asked to make four jump shots as he ran from one half of the court to the other. He needed nine attempts to complete the drill, in which he missed three in a row, prompting Robinson to to say his shot “did not look as pretty” as he would have liked.
Robinson also got some playful ribbing from Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell during the drill when he paused to tie his shoe lace. Wittman chimed in as well, and Robinson afterward joked about getting some much needed rest while participating in the drill.
“They made me feel like I was already part of the team,” Robinson said of the Wizards coaching staff.
It remains unclear if the Wizards will have the opportunity to draft Robinson when they’re on the clock. The New Orleans Hornets own the top overall selection and are reportedly set to pick Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, although Robinson has said he feels he’s the better player.
The Wizards clearly are comfortable with Robinson on the court and with his character and maturity off of it. His life experience includes handling a series of tragedies with the deaths of his mother, grandmother and grandfather during a one-month span from December 2010 through January 2011.
Robinson also stayed three years at Kansas, where he developed his game under Coach Bill Self. Robinson backed up Marcus and Markieff Morris for two years before dominating the Big 12 with his physical style and helping direct the Jayhawks to the national championship game.
Robinson averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds last season and decided to leave school early in order to provide financial stability for him and his sister, Jayla, who was raised by her father, James Paris, in the District after their mother, Lisa, died of a heart attack at 43.
“I’ll be happy to go wherever I get selected,” Robinson said, “but you know it would be a nice thing to come back.
“It’s a challenge that I want to take on. I think if I want to get to the top of this league, to take on a challenge, to come to this team and to help them get over that hump, then I defintely could be considered one of those players.”
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