During a visit to the University of Richmond last month, Aces senior Greg Robbins knew he’d found a match.
“The coaches, the campus, everything just felt great,” says Robbins. “The program is really coming on and I just kept thinking how exciting it would be to be part of that. Plus, it’s one of the top schools in the country.”
Within a few days of his return home to Ardmore, Robbins called Spiders Head Coach Chris Mooney to inform him of his decision. “Coach,” he said, “I’d like to come to Richmond.”
It has been quite a basketball odyssey for Robbins, a multi-talented 6’4 swingman known for his late game heroics and on-court savvy. As an eighth-grader, Robbins burst onto the scene during a dominant summer AAU campaign; months later, he helped lead the Aces to a state championship with a string of clutch playoff performances, including a game-saving block in the closing seconds of the title game against Schenley. In 2007, he propelled the Aces to the state quarterfinals with a pull-up jumper at the buzzer against Easton. During the past two years, he has been the Aces’ leading scorer, breaking the thousand-point plateau last season and becoming just the second player in Aces history to do so in his junior year. (The first – Kobe Bryant ‘96 – helped lift Team USA to recent Olympic gold.)
Robbins hopes that a successful senior season will carry over into his college career.
“Playing Division 1 basketball has always been a dream for me, and to be able to do it at a place like Richmond is really a dream come true,” says Robbins, “I know how passionate the fans are down there and how much talent they have on that team. Hopefully, I can finish my senior year with a bang and bring some of those winning experiences with me.”
While Robbins can’t officially sign with Richmond until November, his conversation with Coach Mooney – which came more than three months prior to the start of the signing period – reflects the strength of his interest and commitment to the Spiders program. Robbins expressed disappointment with a recent article in the Main Line Life newspaper that appeared to call his college intentions into question.
“I sincerely apologize for the way that article portrayed me. I read it and was like – wow -- that’s not how I feel at all. I can’t even remember most of what the reporter was asking me, but he kept telling me about a friend of his who ended up at NC State and would I want to go there if a school like that came along? It had nothing to do with me not wanting to come to Richmond. It’s just that locally there is all this expectation for kids to go to an ACC or a Big East school and sometimes it gets uncomfortable when people ask why you’re not going here or not going there. Sometimes you just say something to get the interview over and done with. I have so much respect for Richmond and the coaches and players down there, not to mention the A-10.”
Another reason for Robbins’s attraction to Richmond?
“They’ve been with me all along. They’ve gotten to know me, my family, my coaches. They’ve made a commitment to me and after [the injury] this summer, they showed they really cared.”
This past June, during the Aces’ trip to UNC Team Camp, Robbins suffered a broken arm when he was undercut on a breakaway dunk. The arm is now almost fully healed, but it was a scary moment and it came at an inopportune time.
“It was right before the major recruiting period,” says Robbins, “And it was definitely disappointing. I had spent the whole summer dedicated to basketball and looked forward to getting out there and playing in some big tournaments. I was also upset because I had really been looking forward to being with my teammates on the UNC trip, playing basketball, going rafting and doing all the team-bonding stuff.”
With his arm in a cast, Robbins was unable to make a bigger mark on the summer recruiting circuit. Still, he had a good idea of who was interested in offering him a scholarship.
“There were a bunch of schools out there who were interested. I’m not sure how much the month of July would have changed that. Basically, it came down to the fact that I really enjoyed my visit to Richmond and when my family and I weighed all the options, it just felt like the best fit.”
Robbins credits the guidance he’s received from parents Sydney and Carl (a standout at the University of Pennsylvania in the late ‘60’s), his close friends, and the LM coaching staff during the college decision-making process. He also highlights the role played by former Central League rival and current Richmond star Dan Geriot, a rising junior.
“I definitely enjoyed talking to Dan and he had some helpful things to say to me about his experience at Richmond,” says Robbins. “He had a great career at Springfield and is doing really well down there and loves school. He also kind of felt my pain with the injury because he just hurt his knee and is going to be out this season.”
The next order of business for Robbins is the Fall soccer season. A standout on the pitch as well as the court, Robbins helped lead the 2007 Aces to their first District soccer title in more than 20 years. This year the expectations are even higher.
“I love soccer and I’m really fortunate to be part of a great team that has a chance to do some good things this season,” says Robbins. “I guess people have always wondered why I didn’t give up soccer to concentrate on basketball, but I love playing soccer and it definitely helps me with basketball – with things like footwork and being in shape. Plus I want to win, and I just couldn’t imagine not being out there with my friends, competing for a championship.”
Robbins’s dedication to soccer has been part of the intrigue for those recruiting him for basketball – how good could he be if he shifted his focus entirely to the hardwood? While many high level athletes make the shift in high school, Robbins will become a single-sport athlete for the first time when he gets to college.
“I’m excited about that. I think the potential is high and it’s just a matter of making that transition,” says Robbins.
Much of the same can be said about his college plans.
“Richmond is a great place, with a lot of great potential for me. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
Did you know?…Robbins will become the Aces’ third player in the A-10, joining Garrett Williamson ‘06 (St. Joe’s) and Ryan Brooks ’06 (Temple)…Richmond’s home arena is the Robins Center; one can only imagine the possibilities for local sports writers…The Aces are no strangers to the Richmond campus -- in 2007, Lower Merion participated in Richmond’s Team Camp. This year, rising senior Harley Williamson and rising junior Alon Seltzer were campers at Richmond’s Elite Camp…Richmond head coach Chris Mooney and assistant coach Kevin McGeehan are Philadelphia products. Mooney played at Archbishop Ryan High School in the Northeast and went on to play at Princeton, before beginning his coaching career at Lansdale Catholic. McGeehan is a native of Maple Glen, PA and coached at Lansdale Catholic and Springfield High; he was team captain at Gettysburg College, where Dan Capkin ’05 currently plays.