We’re not talking about some of those three-hour, round-trip bus journeys in the far-flung Mountain Valley Conference, either.

Robinson and his parents, Jamie and Marcy, have spent countless hours at the mercy of spinning tires on the family vehicle, chasing AAU games all along the Atlantic coast with his MBR-sanctioned all-star squad.

“Since seventh grade, there have been a lot of late-night, school-night trips to Hampden to practice. My dad taking me there. Me sleeping all the way there and doing homework on the way back,” Robinson said. “We didn’t play in-state at all this year. We went to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Kentucky. It was an every-weekend grind. I think we got one or two weekends off from March until the end of July.”

Few current athletes in Maine have invested as much time and energy into improving their game from freshman to senior year, and that commitment is a can’t-miss element of the Cougars’ customary strong start in Class C South.

The reigning regional champions improved to 6-0 with a 72-43 victory at Monmouth on Saturday night. Robinson, Dirigo’s default point guard but fully capable of playing all five positions on the court, supplemented a season-high 30 points with nine assists, eight rebounds and seven steals.

“Sometimes I think he might get frustrated that he hasn’t scored as much as he did last year, but he’s so much better all-around,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “He’s one of the best defensive players in the league now. He rebounds really, really well. He’s so active in a game that it’s hard to score all the time like he was used to.”


Robinson leads the league with 25.7 points per game and stands at 1,536 points for his career. If Dirigo were to return to the state title game this winter, he would need to average 29 the rest of the way to join his coach on the short list of 2,000-point scorers in Maine history.

He eclipsed Dirigo’s record for boys as a junior, jumping ahead of Doug Clark, then Tom Knight (currently a professional in Europe) at a school steeped in basketball tradition.

“There have been so many good players at Dirigo, and that’s why it’s so impressive that he was the all-time leading scorer after three years,” Magnusson said. “It just shows what a career he’s had for us.”

Ahead of his time

Given that history, expectations greet any prospective Dirigo player on his way through the locker room doors. Robinson was the subject of such long-range chatter more than a year before he became eligible to launch his first 3-pointer.

The summer between seventh and eighth grade, Robinson played the full June and July schedule with a high school varsity team that featured Cody St. Germain, Ben Holmes, Josh Turbide and Caleb Turner.


Those Cougars went on to win the state championship. Less than a year later, Robinson found himself trying to fill their shoes in the Dirigo starting lineup. He was the leading scorer for a club that made it back to the regional semifinals.

“It seems like it was just yesterday that I was getting ready for my first home game with Oak Hill, being the freshman, getting my first start,” Robinson said. “There was obviously a lot of pressure, a lot of hype, that there was a freshman starting at Dirigo. Coach Magnusson did a great job easing me into my role. I had great seniors on the team, Hunter Ross, T.J. Frost and Robbie Babb.”

Dirigo fell again in the semis as a No. 1 seed Robinson’s sophomore year before returning to its fifth state game in seven seasons a year ago, falling to Calais.

In addition to his gifts and the work ethic necessary to sharpen them, Robinson has evolved into Dirigo’s leader by example at each mile post.

“He didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes early in his career, even though he was arguably our best player. He waited, and last year and this year especially is when his leadership has taken off,” Magnusson said. “He’s gotten a lot quicker. He’s gotten stronger. His passing ability is really good. When we moved him to point guard last year, things really took off, because he makes everybody else so much better.”

No days off


Magnusson calls his prized pupil a “throwback,” noting his lack of self-promotion and his predisposition to play through pain.

Robinson also is a relic from the days when electronic devices were few and becoming a gym rat was a common form of entertainment. His regimen includes 200 or more shots a day.

“Sports have played a huge role in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to have a great family who always support me,” Robinson said. “My dad, my mom. Even my grandmother will go to the gym and rebound for me. We had a lot of Christmases and Thanksgivings when we would go to the gym and get a nice workout in, and it’s a holiday. They don’t have to go in with me.”

That dedication also shone through in Robinson’s desire to challenge himself against the best in the state and nation.

His AAU team featured Andrew Fleming of Oxford Hills, Thomas Coyne of Falmouth and Brendan McIntyre of Hampden, among others. Coached by Rick Moore and Kevin Black of Hampden, the U17 squad won multiple games in the national tournament at Louisville, Ky.

“I played against kids who got offers from North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky,” Robinson said. “You don’t play any better competition than what we play in AAU.”


Role models

Robinson immersed himself in basketball without specializing in it. He was the starting quarterback on three playoff journeys with the Dirigo football team, capped by a senior season in which he was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy.

He is quick to acknowledge his good fortune in being able to work with both Magnusson and football coach Jim Hersom, widely recognized as two of Maine’s best at their craft.

“I loved playing for Coach Hersom. His football IQ is unbelievable. He and Coach Magnusson are very, very alike. They’re the two best coaches I’ve ever had,” Robinson said. “Coach Magnusson and I, we’ve spent so many hours in the gym together, ever since my seventh grade year when he took the job. I have great respect for Coach. With what he did as a player, you can only aspire to be as good as he was.”

Magnusson scored more than 2,000 points at Georges Valley before starring at the University of Maine at Farmington.

UMF is on Robinson’s list of prospective schools along with Maine’s three representatives of Division 3 NESCAC — Bates, Bowdoin and Colby. Robinson said that he wants to continue his basketball career but also attend a “high academic school,” something that doesn’t surprise his coach.


“I think he’s the best scorer in the state because he finds a way to get it done all the time,” Magnusson said. “He’s also a really good guy off the court. You can trust that he’s going to be doing the right things. He’s the type of guy you really want to coach. I feel really lucky to be able to coach him the past four years.”

For all the miles and all the flirtations with the big time, Dirigo is home for Robinson.

Dirigo is the place where the key lets him in on holidays. Where he grew up cheering for boys’ and girls’ championship teams alike. Where today he’s the one who greets the younger kids before and after games and strives to win one more glistening trophy to inspire them.

“It’s gold ball or bust, really. After the way last year ended, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t thought about the state game. I’m ready to get back there,” Robinson said.

“I see some of the kids my dad used to coach, and they’re like, ‘I remember when you used to come to practice when you were 3 or 4.’ Seeing the likes of Tom Knight and all those Western Maine titles in a row, you always want to play on that court and wear the Dirigo uniform.”


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