By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
He was born Wilbert Robinson in Uniontown, Pa. But he’s best known widely simply as Wil Robinson in West Virginia University men’s basketball history.
The sharp-shooting 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard ranked third among the school’s all-time leading scorers as a three-year varsity star in 1970-71-72 right behind Jerry (WVU’s best ever) West and Hot Rod (Crown Prince) Hundley in the 1950s and 60s.
Robinson, who played an average of 36.5 minutes per game for 75 games, was coached by Sonny Moran after spending his first year under Bucky Waters’ direction on a freshman team in 1969.
The All-American was honored as a rare two-time team captain in his junior and senior seasons.
Robinson had already become even more distinguished when averaging 29.4 points per game in 1972. That’s an all-time WVU record, which still stands.
It came by scoring 706 points in 24 games — the highest average ever in one season by any Mountaineer player.
“I’m surprised that the record hasn’t been broken by now,” Robinson said during a recent visit to Morgantown. “I wonder whether it ever will be.”
In setting that 29.4 scoring mark, Robinson broke the previous record of 29.3, which had been set by West in 1960 for a single season. So it’s one Wil always considered special.
His three-year total of 1,850 points trailed only the career scoring totals of West (2,309) and Hundley (2,180) until Da’Sean Butler came up with a total of 2,095 as a senior in 2010. Of course, all four greats are first-team All-Americans and the first three also are members of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Robinson was the school’s seventh first-team selection when honored in 1972.
Other significant marks by Robinson are 24.7 points-per-game scoring average (second) and 733 field goals (third).
What’s more, he helped his teammates open the WVU Coliseum on Dec. 1, 1970, in a 113-92 victory against Colgate. And the flamboyant Robinson set — and still holds — the Coliseum record for most points in a game by a Mountaineer (45 against Penn State in 1971).
You’ll also find that he owns five of the top seven of WVU’s all-time leading individual player scoring records.
“I totally enjoyed playing basketball for West Virginia,” Wil Robinson declared emphatically. “I have a lot of great friends there.
“As I say, I’m surprised that no one has broken my one-season scoring record by now,” he said. “Most players have four years (varsity). I just had three ... No one has been close to 29.4 points per game (for a season)”
Robinson recalls he had eight or nine games of 40-or-more points. He recalls scoring a satisfying 39 in a game vs. Notre Dame.
“But remember that you can have highs and lows,” he chuckled.
Robinson, who admittedly was encouraged by Coach Moran to score, was a star before coming to college. He averaged 30 points a game and led Uniontown’s Laurel Highlands High School to the Pennsylvania State Tournament Championship.
For that, he earned All-America status.
Drafted high in both the NBA and ABA, Robinson played one year of pro ball in the ABA with the Memphis and Utah teams in 1974.
Then from 1975-77, Robinson was working for Roadway Express before returning to WVU as a basketball graduate assistant coach.
He completed requirements for a master’s degree in business in 1984. Robinson then returned to his career in retail business, working for Picway Shoes (1984-94).
That was as district coordinator in Buffalo, N.Y.
In 1995, he rejoined Roadway Express and served as district supervisor at Grand Isle, N.Y., until 1999.
He now is in his 13th year as an executive with the firm of Shoes, Inc.
Wil and wife Pamela have been married since Dec. 23, 1987, and reside in Grand Isle, N.Y. They have a son, Lance, who’s 23 years old.