He's something of a forgotten man ahead of his second NBL 'season' but Hawks import Justin Robinson is out to remind people of his credentials as season tip-off looms.
The now 25-year-old was one of the highest touted imports to arrive on Aussie shores ahead of last season fresh off stints with four NBA franchises, including then reigning champions Milwaukee.
Twelve months on and his NBL resume stands at a single game after a torn meniscus suffered in the season-opener ruled him out of the Hawks campaign before it had even begun.
With Illawarra again set to open the fresh season against Sydney in Wollongong, the September 30 date shapes as a literal do-over for the Virginia native, but with far less fanfare this time around.
While he welcomes the low-key build-up, Robinson is ready to put his name back up in lights ahead of the season-opener.
"I kind of like the idea of that my name isn't up in a lot of the conversations right now, it puts a little bit more of a chip on my shoulder than what I already have," Robinson said.
"It's crazy how stuff dies down when you get injured and people act like things change. I'm still the same person that I was before, maybe even better [after] focusing on some things in my rehab.
"Obviously the goal is still the same, be myself and show exactly who I am and why I'm here and just showing that I'm really still that guy.
"I'm one of the best point-guards in the world still, and I just want to show that throughout the year, have a great year and have us win games."
While many expected the injury could well spell the end of his time in Wollongong, and likely the NBL, Robinson remained a huge presence in Hawks camp last season.
It was an unquestionably tough time for the franchise, with George King, Peyton Siva and Michael Frazier all joining Robinson on the season-ending injury list Jacob Jackomas wrestled with through a franchise low 25-3 campaign.
Robinson's impact without taking the floor meant the club was desperate to ensure they retained his services. For his part, the feeling was mutual.
"My dad taught me from a young age that you need to try and impact the world without bouncing a basketball," Robinson said.
"The group of guys needed me last year, it was a tough time as you all saw. Even though I was hurt, I still wanted to be that leader, be that energy guy and just try to keep the guys together through the tough time that we were having.
"I think [people] saw when I was on the sideline last year, I'm still an energetic, very giddy-up person, probably breaking some rules jumping up and down when I'm not supposed to.
"That's just who I am, I'm a leader on and off the court, I'm an energy guy and I think the way the organisation handled my injury, I just couldn't thank them enough for.
"That was my appreciation, to stay around and be with the group of guys and try to give them what I was supposed to be on the court, but off it."
If there is a silver lining to the long stint on the sideline, it's the opportunity for the Virginia Tech alum to get a feel for the league well in advance of what's effectively a second debut.
It leaves him confident he can make a quick impact when season tips off, which, in contrast to most players of his pedigree, won't be a step into the unknown.
"I can guarantee you more than three wins," Robinson said.
"I'll guarantee that on the record, but it is hard to win games in this league. The teams that you saw last year who were supposed to be the big teams didn't do so well.
"I think it's the very small things that help you win games in the NBL. The Breakers shocked a lot of people because they played hard and they were together.
"I think in this this group we have it. We've got vets that have been in the NBL, we've got great imports, we've got young guys that have had some experience on the court early in their career.
"There's going to be some ups and downs like every season, but I think we have a group of guys that are very unselfish, we've got a lot of talented pieces that aren't selfish.
"I think the competitive nature in our practice so far gives us a high hope of what we can be as a team together."
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