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Multi-threat Devin Robinson enjoying tourney run with Gators

DEVIN ROBINSON

With 38 points and 18 rebounds through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, Devin Robinson certainly looked comfortable in an NBA arena last weekend in Orlando.

Leaving Florida early for the big leagues is a decision he'll have to make at the end of this season. But, the forward insists he's not thinking about that. His attention is centered is on the Big Dance.

“Everybody’s focused on one goal and just enjoying it, you know," Robinson said. "You don’t really get many opportunities like this in a lifetime.”

The Virginia native entered the tournament averaging 10.9 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. So, when UF’s leading scorers KeVaughn Allen and Canyon Barry weren’t too productive (Allen shot a combined 3-for-21; Barry, a combined 2-for-8), Robinson's career-high-tying 24 points against East Tennessee and his double-double against University of Virginia were exactly the type of boosts his teammates needed.

“It’s good to see him play the way he’s been playing the last two games," point guard Chris Chiozza said. "He’s had games like that throughout the season, but to see him put back-to-back games like that, especially at this time in the season, it’s a huge boost to this team on both ends of the court. He can affect the game in so many ways with his length and athleticism. When he’s playing like that, he’s one of the best players in the country. And it makes us one of the best teams in the country.”

Robinson's a 6-foot-8 player who can shoot 3’s and slam down dunks, but it’s his improved defense that’s transformed him into one of the most lethal athletes in the tournament.

“It’s really satisfying. It’s been fun to watch him grow right before our eyes," head coach Mike White said.

“He’s looked himself in the mirror and made some decisions that he’s gonna try to defend and rebound at the highest possible level, play with a tremendous motor. Now we’re seeing more and more of what he’s capable of doing on the offensive end. But when he’s out on the court -- when he’s earning 40 minutes -- he’s earning 36 minutes because he’s turning into a really good defender and rebounder.”

When former Gator forward Dorrian Finney-Smith left the program for the NBA, Robinson knew it was his turn to step up.

"He’s gone now, so somebody else had to play defense," Robinson said. "I knew that if I wanted to play and get some playing time, I’d have to step up and play on the defensive side. I know that defense wins championships. So I just tried to instill that in my brain that I had to defend at a higher level than I am to separate myself from everyone else in the country – from everyone else on the team, for that matter.”

A stress fracture in Robinson’s foot dashed his hopes of going pro last year. But, it doesn’t matter now. He’s enjoying the ride with his team as they make the push toward the Final Four.

“I think about that all the time, but I’m glad I’m here," he said. "I’m glad I came back. I’m glad it happened, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

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