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Player Preview: Jeff Robinson

Xavier has gone from a team struggling to find healthy players, to a team suddenly deep in both talent and experience. While this is probably the best of problems to have, it does spell trouble for one of the most enigmatic Musketeers since Keith Jackson.

Jeff Robinson is undeniably talented. His game against La Salle was one of the best performances (non Tu Holloway division) by a Xavier player last year. Two games later, Robinson was pouring in two against a terrible Charlotte team. With Dez Wells, Travis Taylor, and Andre Walker all looking at time down low, Jeff Robinson is at a crossroads.

When I looked at Jeff Robinson during the Summer Camp series, I mentioned that it was his extremely evident lack of confidence that held him back. Robinson has, since then, only had more pressure applied to his very tenuous starting spot. If he is to have any chance of success, he'll have to get himself involved early and often.

Therein lies the rub with Robinson. He's a tremendous athlete, but seems unable to get the kind of second chance points that Jamel McLean lived on. He's a decent shooter, but lacks the confidence to really step into a shot. He's quick off the dribble, but reluctant to take on all but the most overmatched of opponents. In order for Jeff to get comfortable in a game, he seems to need to be involved right away. To be involved right away, he has to actually do something.

Best Case: Robinson finally has his "Eureka!" moment and starts putting his talent and athleticism to use. He's never going to be a great shooter, but he has the ability to score in bunches. Realizing this, Jeff becomes an explosive third option on a team led by Holloway and Lyons. With Redford and Martin opening the perimeter, Robinson exploits a steady stream of slower big men and attacks the basket with abandon regularly.

Worst Case: Early in the season Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Justin Martin, and Dez Wells put up big numbers. Not feeling needed, Robinson drifts even farther into his own head. With depth aplenty, he becomes an afterthought on a bench that features players that can out-defend him (Walker), out-rebound him (Taylor), and outscore him (Wells).

Most Likely: Of all the Xavier players, Robinson is the hardest to predict. I'm not sure that any other players has such a spread between his top and bottom levels of performance. That said, I think Jeff can become a serious weapon off the bench. Against smaller teams, his size in the post will be effective. Against bigger teams, his quickness will force other bigs to come outside to play. If Coach Mack can get him to accept the role of spark plug, he could have a big year.