Patience is a virtue: Brandon Robinson ready to lead, take on a new role for Tar Heels as a senior

Brant Wilkerson-New

Good things come to those who wait.

That’s the old adage, and although that doesn’t seem to be a popular thought in college basketball these days, it’s one Brandon Robinson is living first-hand for North Carolina this season.

The only member of the 2016 recruiting class left on the Tar Heels’ roster, he’s seen NBA talent come and go while teammate Seventh Woods transferred to South Carolina for a better opportunity to finish his career.

And despite coming off the bench in a limited role for all 107 games he’s played at Carolina, he never considered the possibility of going elsewhere in search of more minutes.

“I stuck here because this is the school that I chose, and I chose here for a reason,” he said. “I look at what North Carolina can do for me, beyond my playing career.”

Robinson, like anyone on an ACC basketball roster has aspirations of playing professionally, but that’s not the only reason he stuck around.

“I want to get into coaching and why not be around Coach (Roy) Williams if you want to get into coaching,” he said. “Coach Davis, Coach Rob and Coach Fred, those guys have been here for a while and coached national championship teams, so learning from them has helped me out a lot.”

Thanks to Robinson’s patience, his moment has finally arrived at Carolina with the expectation his role will grow significantly from the 3.4 points and 11.8 minutes he averaged last season when he came off the bench to spark the Tar Heels with 3-point shooting and a lanky 6-4 frame as a wing defender.

A 46-percent 3-point shooter last season, Robinson projects as an efficient weapon in a bigger role, as KenPom.com’s advanced stats gave him an offensive rating of 127.3 in his limited role, which ranked second on the team behind Cam Johnson’s rating of 129.

Regardless of whether he can produce at that rate in a bigger role, he’s already providing the Tar Heels with something they needed even more desperately with six newcomers on the roster.

“It’s crazy, like you see it year in and year out, that change from being a junior to a senior, it just happens,” junior Sterling Manley said. “You don’t know why, but B-Rob is becoming a great leader and Coach really leans on him a lot to show us the way and really lead us.”

That progress wasn’t necessarily obvious, as teammates described Robinson as a “quiet guy” who spends his free time playing NBA 2K and Madden.

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Jeremy Brevard | USA TODAY Sports

“He’s a chill dude,” sophomore Leaky Black said.

He’s also introspective and thoughtful. Rather than looking back and wishing he’d had a bigger role in games the past three seasons, Robinson instead talks about the amount of time he’s had in practice to prepare and compete with NBA-caliber talent like Theo Pinson and Coby White on the perimeter.

“My dream and my goal is to be able to play at the next level, and if I want to play at the next level, I’ve got to go against the best guys every day,” he said. “Each year, I had a guy in front of me that went to the NBA, so hopefully I can be the next one.”

Instead of running from that challenge or being upset that younger players have gotten minutes ahead of him, he’s embraced what he could learn from them.

“I appreciate those guys forever for what they’ve done for me,” he said.

That approach has clearly earned the respect of his teammates at Carolina, and with one season to go, a new Robinson has emerged more vocal and confident, both in himself and teammates.

“He’s still learning each and every day and he’s a great leader that I really look up to,” Manley said.

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