142147115 Rising Star: Kansas Thomas Robinson

(credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

By: Mark Chalifoux

If Kansas is going to take down the Kentucky Wildcats in the National Championship game, it’s going to take a monster effort from All-American forward Thomas Robinson. Of course, Robinson is capable of dominating the paint.

Widely considered a Player of the Year candidate, Robinson has looked like one of the best big men in the country for most of the year. He averages nearly 18 points and 12 rebounds a game and has been the offensive catalyst for the Jayhawks in the tournament.

Ohio State knew that they just had to clog the lane and shut down Robinson to advance to the finals, but he still managed to drop 19 and 8 on the Buckeyes in an ugly one. But, that’s what Kansas does. They win games with their defense and their poise. Only once has Kansas scored more than 65 in a tournament game and the Jayhawks have had a bevy of close calls.

Robinson has done more than his share, putting up 18 and 9 against North Carolina and 18 points to go with his 15 rebounds against N.C. State. He also had double-doubles in the first two tournament games.

Robinson will almost certainly be a lottery pick in the NBA draft and has established himself as one of the best big men in the country. The problem for him, however, is that he’s going against the one team in the country with a better big man. It’s Kentucky’s Anthony Davis who will win the majority of the Player of the Year awards and the Wildcats also held Robinson to just 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting in a 75-65 Wildcats win earlier this season.

Don’t expect another sub-par performance from Robinson in the season’s final game, as he has stepped his game up to another level recently. Kansas will try to slow Kentucky down and get them in a defensive battle and offensively, the Jayhawks will revolve their offense around getting the ball to Robinson in the post.

He’s a capable dribbler and can handle a 1-on-1 matchup but he does the most damage when he gets good position under the basket. Of course, he doesn’t have the supporting cast that Davis has at Kentucky. Robinson is definitely the heart of this Jayhawks team so unless he’s at his absolute best, Kentucky could be in for another double-digit win over Kansas.

Thomas Robinson dunks against Baylor

Thomas Robinson highlights

Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at mark.chalifoux@gmail.com and @markchalifoux on Twitter.

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