TCU’s Alex Robinson closing in on all-time assists record
That’s how Corey Santee would describe TCU senior point guard Alex Robinson. Not many would argue that characterization.
Robinson has been the Frogs’ floor general for the past three seasons, and is on the cusp of breaking Santee’s record for all-time assists in program history.
Robinson goes into Saturday’s game against Florida needing 15 to tie Santee’s record of 575 career assists, and 16 to break it.
“When I’m playing the game, I don’t ever think about it. Honestly I just know that I’m hovering around there,” Robinson said. “I don’t know the exact numbers. I don’t know what game I’ll get it at or whatever. I just know I’m hovering around it.”
Robinson’s preference would be to do it on his home floor at Schollmaier Arena, although that will take his best assists game this season. Robinson’s season high is 14 against Fresno State in November.
But Robinson has done it before. His career-high is 17 assists in a game, set in January 2018 against Iowa State.
It seems far-fetched going into the Florida game, considering TCU coach Jamie Dixon considered his team a “work-in-progress” following its win over Texas on Wednesday night. Anything can happen in sports, though.
Robinson, who is averaging a Big 12-leading 7.9 assists, will get it sooner than later.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to take it,” Robinson said. “I don’t know if I’ll be real cool about it, or if I’m going to cry. I don’t know what will happen.
“It’s going to be huge for me. This is very important. I know everything I’ve been through … I never thought I’d have a record like that.”
Robinson starred at Mansfield Timberview and then headed to Texas A&M. He wasn’t the right fit in Billy Kennedy’s system, and headed back to Tarrant County when Trent Johnson was still coaching TCU.
Robinson never played in a game under Johnson, but has flourished in Jamie Dixon’s spread motion offense the past three seasons. He has earned Dixon’s trust and has plenty of freedom on the court.
“That relationship with Coach Dixon has developed over time. He didn’t give me that freedom right out of the gates,” Robinson said. “Once he saw I was able to create plays and make things happen and be smart about it, he gave me the freedom to do it. Honestly if I was a recruit, I don’t feel like anyone plays like the way we do. We have more of a pro style offense than anyone in the country with the freedom we have.
“We call it motion, but honestly it’s just playing basketball. He instills the basics, makes sure we back-cut and move the ball. But, if you can play basketball, Coach Dixon lets you play.”
For Robinson, playing has always meant dishing the ball. His mother, former TCU women’s guard Darla Robinson (maiden name Biggs), taught him the importance of passing the ball at a young age.
Robinson has watched old VHS tapes of his mom instructing him to constantly look up and pass the ball.
“She instilled that from Day 1 when I was little,” said Robinson, who wears the same number as his mom, No. 25.
“She paved the way for me to play like this.”
And it’s something Robinson has embraced. In an era where so much emphasis is on scoring points, Robinson is an old-school mentality that is just as happy setting up his teammate for an easy bucket as he is driving to the basket himself.
“Most people are obsessed with scoring,” Robinson said. “A lot of people nowadays get too caught up in statistics and scoring and forget about winning. They feel like if you get the right stats and you don’t win, everything is still OK. That’s not right.
“My biggest thing is just winning. For our team, me distributing helps us win. I understand that’s my role and I’ve just embraced that. I’m all about winning. Whatever I have to do to help us win.”
And TCU is winning more than it has with that mindset and approach.
Santee, a graduate assistant on the coaching staff, has enjoyed witnessing TCU turn into a respected program in recent years and is more than ready to see Robinson take the top spot in the record books.
“Man, it’s a blessing. I tell him all the time, I wouldn’t want to be in another place,” said Santee, who played under Billy Tubbs and Neil Dougherty in his college career.
“Alex is excited about the opportunity. I’m like, ‘Look man, records are meant to be broken. Hopefully in the future you’ll be mentoring the next kid that comes around and you keep it going.’ I’m nothing but happy for him.”
Robinson and Santee have what each described as a brotherly relationship. Both would still take themselves in a 1-on-1 game, of course.
But each sees parts of their game in the other. Floor generals seemingly have a universally language.
“I like when Alex keeps his dribble alive going baseline, sucks the defense in and then makes a pass outside to one of the wings for a 3,” Santee said. “He does that very well. But he also splits the pick-and-roll passes so well. The boy has a knack. He has a very high IQ.
“It’s just special watching him pass the ball.”