As Justin Robinson planned for the NBA Draft, he, his family and his agent focused on one question in determining the best path forward.
“Is the goal to hear your name called or is the goal to stick around and have a long career in the NBA and be in the best fit to make a roster,” Robinson said. “I think that's kind of what opened my eyes up. When my name wasn’t called, it hurt deep down inside, but at the same time I think I’m in the best fit for myself.”
When NBA teams started calling in the second round of the NBA Draft June 20, Robinson felt comfortable with passing up the chance to be selected if it meant he’d have the opportunity to sign with someone who better suited him as an undrafted rookie free agent.
That’s what he did. After the two-round, 60-player draft concluded, Robinson agreed to sign with the Washington Wizards.
“We had some phone calls around the 40s area that we turned down to be in the best possible fit which we thought was here,” Robinson said after the first day of Wizards’ rookie mini-camp Tuesday. “I think the idea of thinking of the bigger picture and not just wanting to hear my name called was just kind of the approach that we took. We had the opportunity to hear my name called on TV, but some of the spots weren’t the best for us and we thought this was the best spot.”
By signing with a team he and his family watched as season ticket holders, Robinson not only stays close to home. The Wizards intend for Robinson to play with the Capital City Go-Go, their NBA G League affiliate based in Washington as well.
But he also will compete for a roster spot for a team in need of backup help at point guard.
Robinson continued to impress the Wizards after he worked out with them June 7. Overall, Robinson visited 15 teams, including two twice (Boston and Detroit).
Robinson entered the draft as a possible second-round pick after a standout, four-year career at Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-2 Robinson finished his college career as Virginia Tech’s all-time assists leader. Despite missing 12 games with an foot injury, he still averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists in helping Virginia Tech reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967,
“This being an hour away from Manassas is kind of a blessing to me,” Robinson said. “The Northern Virginia area is a big mecca for Hokie people. I just think to build off that and to have that support system is kind of a great feeling.”
Robinson’s last college game was in Capital One Arena after the Hokies lost to Duke in the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of a good goal to play my first game [in Capital One again],” Robinson said. “I think that’s kind of the ultimate goal and that’s what it was on draft day.”
After mini-camp wraps up Thursday, Robinson will next compete with the Wizards in the Las Vegas Summer League that starts July 5.
“You can tell he’s played point guard,” said Robert Pack, Washington’s summer-league coach. “You can tell he’s trying to get guys into the right spot, get guys to know the offense. He’s got a good grasp of it so far for the few things we’ve put in. That’s good to see a point guard try to take control and be in command out there. And that’s what he’s shown so far.”