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January 5, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Robinson among WVU’s top talents

MORGANTOWN — The legendary Jerry West remains the greatest, most productive basketball player in West Virginia University men’s basketball history.

As a three-year superstar from 1957-60, the terrifically gifted 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard set numerous records that still stand.

But one of those was broken by Wilbert (Wil) Robinson, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard. His scoring average of 29.4 points per game in 1971-72 is the highest ever by a Mountaineer for one season. It topped by one-tenth of a point West’s scoring average of 29.3 ppg in his senior season.

Robinson, who turned 63 on Christmas Day, now lives in Grand Isle, N.Y., with his wife Pamela and son Lance, who’s 21.

When Robinson graduated, he became the third-highest scorer in WVU history with 1,850 points. West was No. 1 with 2,309 points and Hot Rod Hundley No. 2 with 2,180 points.

But Da’Sean Butler (2007-10) finished with a four-year total of 2,095 points. That bumped Robinson from third to fourth all-time.

But it’s safe to say that you’ll find Robinson in the all-time top 5 in every scoring statistic.

He said this week, “I scored a lot of points because I was quicker than most people. I’d drive past my man or leap for layups.”

His speed also enabled him to get loose for easy shots. He also attributed his smashing success to just plain hard work.

“Some days I’d stay after practice and shoot two or three hours extra on my own,” he said. “I’d recommend that to any player today.”

Robinson admittedly loved to play in the WVU Coliseum, which he helped open on Dec. 1, 1970, as a junior. That was a 113-92 blowout win against Colgate.

Robinson still owns the Coliseum record for most points by a Mountaineer. That is 45 against Penn State in 1971.

At one time he had five of the top seven individual highest scores in the facility, which incidentally cost a mere $10 million and change!

Robinson, who was only the seventh WVU first-team All-American in 1972, was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

He was named to Basketball Weekly’s All-America first team as well as two others, chosen by United Savings and Helms Foundation. He was a second-team selection by Converse magazine and third-team by the Associated Press.

“I most certainly enjoyed my years at West Virginia,” said Robinson who was heavily recruited off a WPIAL state championship team. “I never had any regrets about going there.”

He even returned to earn a master’s degree to go with his bachelor’s degree.

For his basketball career, he played in 75 games under Sonny Moran and Gary McPherson. He averaged 36.2 minutes per game, shot 45.4 percent from the field and made 384 of 472 free throws (81.4 percent).

Robinson was a complete player. He had 306 rebounds, 199 assists and 1,850 points.

He played professional basketball briefly, and then retired to succeed in various business ventures. He even found time for a sideline in acting.

Wil Robinson now is a district supervisor overseer with Shoe Show, Inc. He has 17 stores to oversee.

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