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UNC basketball: Can Brandon Robinson take the next step forward?

Now a junior, Robinson will look to be a consistent part of the rotation.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Miami vs North Carolina Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

It may not seem like it, but Brandon Robinson will enter next season for the Tar Heels as an upperclassman. Through his first two seasons, Robinson hasn’t seen the floor as much as he probably would have liked. Unlike fellow junior Seventh Woods who has primarily been limited by injuries, Robinson suffered mostly because of the plethora of perimeter talent around him. The departures of Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, though, could open things up for him.

Last season, Robinson averaged 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds in 8.6 minutes a game. That 8.6 mpg is a very small step up from the 7.6 mpg he averaged during his freshman campaign. Robinson is yet to truly break into the regular rotation, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made strides since he arrived in Chapel Hill.

Robinson’s 39% three-point field goal percentage last year ranked third on the team behind Luke Maye (43%) and Kenny Williams (40%). Of course, limited opportunities (just 23 attempts) makes that number potentially unreliable, but it’s certainly an improvement from his first season (23%). Perimeter shooting won’t exactly be a huge concern for a team that returns a trio of sharpshooting seniors in Maye, Williams, and Cam Johnson, but it certainly can’t hurt Robinson’s case for more playing time.

Moreover, Robinson always sports a high motor when he enters the game. It’s no secret that Roy Williams loves a guy who brings maximum effort, and Robinson does just that. He became famous for being that “spark plug” off the bench, providing short bursts of energy and hustle plays, oftentimes shifting the momentum of the game. Despite such a slender build (6’5”, 170 pounds), Robinson showed a willingness to sacrifice his body for the betterment of the team.

Speaking of his frame, that’s the area Robinson needs to work on the most. He managed to put on some pounds heading into college, but his weight hasn’t changed much since. Numbers aside, though, he needs to add the strength that it takes to go up against Division 1 athletes. Whether he gained weight or not, there was a noticeable difference in his ability to play through contact (fighting through screens, finishing at the rim, etc.) during his sophomore season as opposed to his freshman season. Extending that trend into his junior campaign will be critical for both Robinson and the Tar Heels.

Aside from strength, there aren’t too many glaring deficiencies in Robinson’s game. Thus far in his career, he’s been sort of a jack-of-all-trades guy. Defensively, he can be very pesky for opposing teams with his hustle and length despite fairly average quickness. Offensively, he can knock down open jumpers when called upon and has improved his ability to take people off the dribble.

The bottom line with Robinson is that he hasn’t yet been given the opportunity to truly show what kind of player he can be. Whether he gets that opportunity is still up in the air, especially with three skilled freshmen recently arriving on campus. With yet another talented backcourt, it will be interesting to see how Robinson expands his role from last season.