Bowman’s Tyrae Robinson a good fit at Indy after leaving Ball St.
By Brian Peloza Post-Tribune correspondent January 16, 2013 11:12PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:26PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Tyrae Robinson may have not realized its significance at the time, but arriving on time for an early-morning breakfast appointment may have changed his life.
Deciding to transfer from Ball State after two seasons, the Bowman Academy graduate showed interest in joining the University of Indianapolis, an NCAA Division II program.
Ball State sent Robinson on his way without a letter of recommendation.
“They called me twice about him,” Indianapolis coach Stan Gouard said of Ball State’s staff. “I talked to those guys and I was like, ‘I don’t want to take him.’”
Nobody questioned the physical abilities of Robinson, an Indiana All-Star in 2010.
“It was a concern about his maturity,” Gouard said. “I don’t think he was ready for college. … When you go to college everybody is good and he was no longer the best player on the team. He had to adjust, and I don’t think he did a good job of adjusting.”
Initially, Gouard was going to pass on Robinson, as he already was in the process of filling his roster with other players. When a couple of those recruits didn’t materialize, a roster spot for Robinson was available.
Gouard scheduled two visits with Robinson — one in Gary and one on the campus of Indianapolis.
“I told him, ‘Here’s what I know about you and here’s what they said about you,’” Gouard said. “‘I don’t know if it’s true or not, but here is what’s going on and here’s what you will have to do if you want to come to school here.’”
Robinson’s first test was on his recruiting visit to Indianapolis, for which Gouard scheduled a 48-hour itinerary that was altered from what most recruits experience.
“We challenged him a little bit, because the verdict is that he’s late to everything,” Gouard said. “We scheduled things on his visit like breakfast at 8 o’clock in the morning. We did things outside of the norm to see if he would wake up and be on time. We also wanted to see if he would make some academic appointments we had for him across campus.
“Everything we set up for him, he was 20-30 minutes early. That made me realize right there that maybe he is ready to turn the corner and be more mature about things.”
Lastly, Robinson spent time with his potential future teammates, also passing that test.
“I got a real good vibe,” said Indianapolis’ leading scorer, Reece Cheatham, who spent four seasons in the White Sox minor league system from 2007-10. “There would be a few times when we had people come in and I would be like, ‘I don’t know about this guy or I don’t know about this.’ But I liked Tyrae and had no second thoughts, or even a question about him.”
While he would do some things differently if given the chance again, Robinson didn’t leave Ball State with regrets. Robinson played in 51 games at Ball State, averaging eight points per game last season, but missed the first semester for academic reasons.
“Part of life is just the learning experiences,” he said. “Each human being is going to have their own individual experiences and that’s something I had. I just have to work hard now to do the best for me and my family.”
On the court, Robinson is enjoying the type of success he had while helping lead Bowman to the Class 2A state championship in 2010.
Indianapolis is undefeated (12-0) and ranked fifth in the nation, it’s highest since reaching third during February 1997.
“I just love winning and playing basketball,” Robinson said. “When you play hard and work hard these are the kind of results you get. It’s nothing individually, it’s all teamwork. We’re all on the same page and have the same task in mind.”
Robinson missed a couple of games with an illness, but has started eight of the 10 games he’s played, averaging 8.1 points and 2.9 assists per game, shooting 52 percent from the field.
“His individual stats may not show it, but we know he’s one of the best on the team,” Cheatham said.
“He can score 20 points a night if he wanted to,” Gouard added, “but he understands we have great players around him and we don’t need him to score 20 points to win a basketball game. With that being said, when the game is on the line he’s able to go and create things for himself and others.”
Indianapolis is set to compete at a high level past this season with only one senior on the roster, second-leading scorer James Hollowell.