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July 22, 2012

The Bishop Robinson Story; Basketball and the recruiting trail

BroncoBlitz.com had the opportunity to interview Western Michigan basketball recruit and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix star Bishop Robinson. Part two of The Bishop Robinson Story details Robinson's second chance at life with the Rocco family. In the third and final part of our series, The Bishop Robinson Story details Robinson's basketball talent and his tough journey through the recruiting trail.

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The Rocco's were well aware that when they adopted Bishop Robinson into their family, that he was a talented basketball player, but they weren't sure exactly how serious the troubled teen was about it at first.

One day, Frank Rocco bumped into one of his colleagues, Damon Allison, who happened to coach AAU basketball several years ago. Damon Allison had been out of the AAU circuit for a while then, but that didn't stop Frank from still asking the former coach whether or not he'd be interested in starting up a new team. At first Allison was hesitant, but had one simple question:

"Would Bishop be willing to play?"

Following that conversation, Coach Allison built his new 15U AAU team around Bishop Robinson and established the Michigan Mustangs. Robinson went on to play with the Michigan Mustangs that spring. However, the team seemed to lack some consistency in the beginning stages, personnel-wise, and the Rocco's wanted something a little more steady and reliable for him.

So Robinson and the Rocco family looked around a bit, until they heard about Coach Darryl Matthews and the Camp Darryl Basketball Academy (CDBA). Having known that some of the former Loy Norrix basketball players were on Matthews' teams in the past and had nothing but great things to say about the program, the Rocco's approached Coach Matthews to ask whether or not they had a spot on the roster for Bishop. Fortunately for the Rocco's, Coach Matthews was well aware of Robinson's talents and willingly accepted him into the program in July of 2010.

With his new team, Robinson traveled to a tournament in Kentucky where a slew of division one college coaches looked on. Not knowing which players they were all there to watch, Robinson asked Frank who they were looking at? And when he found out that none of them were looking at him, that's when Robinson took it personal.

"I've never even seen him dunk before, and he dunked it twice that game and scored 43 points," said Frank Rocco.

After noticing Robinson's performance, a coach from Eastern Michigan walked over from the stands and started talking to Frank.

"That night, I told [Bishop] 'you can't just go out and put up 15.' You've got to continue this."

The next game, Bishop Robinson put up 38 points and 19 rebounds.

The following weekend, Coach Matthews brought Robinson to Marysville, Indiana to play with his 17U team when he was only fifteen years old. Robinson played against current Bronco guard Austin Richie and scored 27 points.

"It was so much fun," said Frank Rocco. "He had completely blossomed at that point."

Robinson continued to flourish and later went on to lead the Loy Norrix varsity men's basketball team to an outright Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) East Division title his junior season, while advancing to the Class A District Finals. The 6-foot-3 175 pound guard was voted by unanimous selection to the Associated Press (Class A) 1st Team All-State averaging 24 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He recorded a double-double in all but four games last year. Because of the fact that he is constantly driving to the basket and being aggressive, Robinson also led the state of Michigan in free throws attempted and free throws made.

Robinson has continued to carry that momentum into the 2012 AAU season with Camp Darryl. This past weekend in Indianapolis, Robinson led Camp Darryl through a field of 40 teams to the 17U Gold Bracket Finals of the Hoosier Shoutout. However, it wasn't nearly enough, as Camp Darryl went on to lose 71-52 to a strong Tennessee Travelers squad. Robinson finished the game with 23 points (8-15 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. During tournament play as a whole, Robinson averaged 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 steals per game, and shot 55% from the field including 74% (45-61) free-throws and 50% (6-12) three-pointers.

"Bishop is a shark. An attacking shark. And there doesn't even have to be blood in the water for him to attack," CDBA head coach Darryl Matthews aggressively describes Robinson's game. "He attacks you offensively and defensively. His motor runs at a high-octane premium."

Bishop Robinson also plays alongside 2013 Bronco basketball recruit J.D. Tisdale, out of Swartz Creek, Michigan.

"J.D. is a bigger point guard by basketball standards (6-foot-6), with good court vision, and he's got the ability to finish at the basket," describes Matthews. "I don't want to say it's like Batman and Robin, because it's more like Batman and Batman when they're together. They play well together. It was a pleasure to have a front row seat last week and watch what they did together."

When asked what Camp Darryl would be like without Bishop Robinson on the team, the coach put it in pretty simple terms.

"We would be losing our heart and soul because of how hard he works."

However despite his hard work, consistent double-double performances, and impressive play-making abilities against some of the top AAU players and teams in the country, Bishop Robinson is still looking for those elusive division one offers.

Robinson currently holds only one offer from Ferris State University, but is also garnering some interest from Akron, Central Michigan, Detroit, Eastern Michigan, IPFW, Stony Brook, and Western Michigan.

"Four years ago, he was sleeping on a porch," said Frank Rocco. "I always tell [Bishop] to just go out and work hard and let his game and other people do the talking. He's as intelligent on the court and athletic as you can be. And you can't teach those kinds of things."

Last Sunday evening on the road again between AAU tournaments in Indianapolis and Orlando, a noticeably frustrated Bishop Robinson still didn't have any answers. He expressed his frustration that even after having the tournament that he had, the phone calls and texts still weren't coming in.

"I don't try to let it get to my head," a somewhat discouraged Robinson explained. "A lot of schools come and go. I think I can play at any level. I just want a school that has my major in education and I want to have a coaching staff that's not just helping me get better as a player, but one that's going to help me become a better man."

"Right now, I get frustrated because there's not much activity with his recruiting, which is just mindblowing to me," said Frank Rocco. "He's going to be playing four years somewhere. But he's reasonably discouraged right now."

Robinson plays his high school home basketball games less than 5 miles down the road from Western Michigan's University Arena, just up Westnedge Avenue and Howard Street. Robinson has been in some contact with the Western Michigan coaching staff, but the Broncos have yet to offer him a scholarship.

"Western Michigan was basically at every single game at Indy," explained Coach Darryl Matthews. "But when you look at how many scholarships are left... I don't know what they are going to do. If they offered him, he'd almost have to say yes."

"I mean I'm not going to say yes, but I'm not going to say no," when asked if Robinson would commit on the spot if the Broncos offered. "It all depends on what my list looks like. My dream school is Florida State. My dad (Frank) went to Florida State so I know a lot about them. It seems like they (WMU) have a lot of guards, but if Western Michigan did offer I would have to think about it."

Former Bronco standout and current assistant coach David Kool is actually an original member of the Camp Darryl Basketball Academy, and was Robinson's AAU coach at one point in time. The two still talk and have a very good relationship, even outside of basketball.

"Bishop looks up to him," said Frank Rocco. "David has embraced their relationship. We couldn't be more proud."

"He's everybody's favorite person here," says Matthews when referring to Robinson. "He's an incredible basketball player and an even better kid. If I were to lose his basketball talent and still keep his character, I'd be happy. All of the intangibles that he brings... and it has nothing to with the ball going through the hoop."

"He's been in this program for three years," explained Matthews. "Every single day in July, he sits in the lobby working on his studies and brushing up on his education on a laptop. Even when he was fourteen. We were getting ready to play in the Championship game last spring and he was on his laptop studying at 8:30 in the morning. He studies for at least one hour a day every day."

"Things turned around for him in life. I've seen people like him in Kalamazoo and there's still people out there in the gutter. But they didn't ask anyone for help. They didn't reach up and grab for it."

The Rocco's haven't legally adopted Bishop Robinson, but they hold power of attorney on him while Robinson's birth mother continues to sign off on court documents. Robinson's mother has recently been employed now for six months at a hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to Bishop Robinson and the Rocco family, she is back up on her feet and doing well and the two still talk on a regular basis.

"It's a blessing," Robinson said with great appreciation. "I don't think I'd be anywhere in my life right now if they didn't bring me in. It's been the best thing that has ever happened to me."



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Use The Knollwood Tavern to discuss and comment anything related to Bishop Robinson and his amazing, inspirational story.

Part One of The Bishop Robinson Story; Growing up in Kalamazoo's south-side neighborhood

Part Two of The Bishop Robinson Story; A second chance at life

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