Former Michigan star Duncan Robinson impressing Heat with his basketball IQ, 3-point shooting

Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson drives against Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeffrey Carroll during Tuesday’s summer league game in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO – Coach Eric Glass saw it from the time Duncan Robinson stepped onto the court last week for the Miami Heat’s summer league training camp.

Glass knew there was something different about the 6-foot-8 forward. Robinson was beyond his 24 years. He was someone who took advantage of playing four years of college and above all, someone who soaked in all the knowledge he received while playing for three seasons at Michigan under coach John Beilein.

“Just his command on the floor,” Glass said about what he immediately noticed about Robinson.

“Nothing surprises him. When guys are loud and they vocalize things early it’s because they see things early. The guys that are quieter are maybe the ones that don’t see things as quickly.”

Glass gives credit to Beilein, who had Robinson for four years (one as a red-shirt) after he transferred to Michigan. But Robinson had more than basketball smarts as evidenced by his early years as a student at the prestigious Governor’s Academy, a prep school in Byfield Mass., and one postgraduate year at Phillips Academy in Exeter, N.H. So it was no wonder he was member of the 2018 Big Ten All-Academic team.

“He’s just a bright kid and he has an ability to focus on detail and he can transfer and absorb a lot of information,” Glass said. “That’s definitely a skill of his.”

Robinson was on the radar of Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer throughout the draft process and when he went undrafted last month the Heat pounced. And Tuesday’s second game of the California Classic showed why.

After a ho-hum summer league opener in which he scored three points, Robinson broke out with 19 points in the Heat’s 89-74 victory over the Lakers. He was 7-of-9 from the field and connected on all but one of his six 3-point shots.

“We were able to get him the ball, the ball was moving a little bit more,” Glass said. “He didn’t get too many touches (in the first game). The ball moves and he finds it and he doesn’t miss very often.”

The Heat concludes play in the California Classic Thursday with a 5 p.m. game against Sacramento. They then move onto the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where they begin play Saturday.

Robinson’s stroke is smooth and easy and became his calling card at Michigan. But he is attempting to get the focus off his shooting and move it to his all-around game.

“I can make shots but I do a little bit more than that,” he said.

And Glass understands why those parts of Robinson’s game are overlooked.

“He’s more athletic than you would think he is, he’s more competitive than you think he is, he’s quicker than you think he is,” Glass said. “We like his skill set. That was somebody that Chet went after right away as soon as the draft was over. You can see why. Chet doesn’t miss on too many guys.”

That athletic ability was on display early Tuesday when, after making three 3-pointers in the first 2:48 of the game, he drove the baseline for a thunderous dunk early in the second quarter.

“I’m sure I have plenty of texts giving me a hard time saying ‘When was the last time I saw you dunk?’” Robinson said. “It’s nice to get one. Hopefully I can get a few more before the summer is over.”

Robinson’s road was not typical of the more noted one-and-done players who barely stay long enough in college to take an exam. In fact, Robinson took the exact opposite route spending five-years in school and starting out at tiny Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he was Division III’s top freshman, an All-American and led Williams to the Division III title game in his one year there.

Robinson then became the first player to transfer from a Division III to a Division I school with a full scholarship. He made an immediate impact at Michigan, mainly because of his outside shooting. He closed his three-year career fourth in the Wolverines history with 237 made 3-pointers and 1,072 points while playing in all 115 games.

Robinson, who averaged 9.3 points in his Michigan career and helped the Wolverines get the NCAA title game in April before losing to Villanova, credited Beilein and his staff for his growth.

“They really focus on the complete player, not just from the skills perspective, but the amount of time he puts into growing us as basketball minds and making sure we understand the why of what we’re doing,” he said.

But the credit goes to Robinson for becoming the shooter he has, a skill that could help get him get an NBA two-way contract, possibly with the Heat.

“A lot of reps,” he said. “I’m a big believer there’s no right way to shoot. It’s whatever’s comfortable and you just have to rep it out.

“That’s kind of how I’ve lived my whole life. I love being in the gym and that’s just how I’ve always been, getting them up. I have a very specific routine I stick to and kind of grown and kind of tweaked and changed throughout my career. But I stick to it.”

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