Former Kansas basketball forward Thomas Robinson will have his jersey hung in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse at halftime of Saturday’s KU-Missouri game, coach Bill Self announced Monday.
Robinson — he wore the No. 0 jersey in his three seasons as a Jayhawk (2009-10, 10-11, 11-12) — was a consensus All-American his junior year.
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Washington, D.C., native also was Big 12 Player of the Year after averaging 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds a game his junior season for the Jayhawks, who went 32-7 overall and 16-2 in the Big 12.
KU that season reached the NCAA title game, where the Jayhawks lost to Kentucky 67-59 in New Orleans.
Robinson was named to the Final Four all-tournament team. A finalist for the Wooden Award, Robinson went on to be selected No. 5 overall in the NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
“We will put Thomas Robinson’s jersey in the rafters at the Missouri halftime, which is perfect,” Self said Monday on his Hawk Talk radio show.
Robinson was one of the main heroes of KU’s 87-86 overtime victory over MU’s Tigers on Feb. 25, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse. It was the last game played in the conference series between the teams, coinciding with MU’s final season in the Big 12.
The two teams resumed the Border War by agreeing to a six-game, six-year series two years ago. KU has won both games since the series resumed with Game 3 to tip at 4:15 p.m., Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
“It’s fitting we’ll do that (Saturday). We wanted to do it last year, but I said, ‘The game is at Missouri.’ So he said, ‘We’ll wait.’ He wanted to do it this game,” Self said.
Self reminded the Hawk Talk audience that Robinson was grateful for all the support he received from KU fans when his mom Lisa died the day before the KU-Texas game on Jan. 22, 2011. at Allen Fieldhouse. Tragically, Robinson also lost two grandparents in the span of a month that winter.
“Him coming (to Lawrence) at this moment will be so good,” Self said. KU junior KJ Adams’ mom died on Nov. 17 following a long fight against cancer.
“When the situation happened with KJ and his family, Thomas was one of the first to reach out and say, ‘How can I help?’’’ Self added. “It will be good to have him here for more than (the) jersey retirement. Angel (Morris, mother of Robinson’s teammates and good friends Markieff and Marcus Morris) will be back. She basically adopted Thomas when this all occurred. I don’t know if the twins will be back (with NBA responsibilities). It will be great to have him here.
“(Robinson) has been back, but this will mean a ton to him. He loves this place, one that obviously changed his life. It’ll mean a lot to have him in the building.”
Robinson, 32, played for Sacramento, Houston, Portland, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven year NBA career. He last played in the Philippines. He’s also played in China, Russia, Turkey, South Korea and Puerto Rico.
Robinson played for KU’s alumni team in the TBT last summer. After the event, he wrote a letter to KU fans that he posted on Instagram.
“I got the opportunity to go back to Kansas and play and there was no way I was going to turn it down,” Robinson wrote. “I don’t want to say the tournament never mattered, but the reason was deeper. After being gone for 12 years and coming back and seeing these people! When I say nothing’s changed , nothing CHANGED. The love will forever be there and Kansas fans, university etc., I truly will go to the grave knowing that this place loves me like no other in the world. You guys sheltered me when I needed sheltering and even after leaving going on my own journey as a pro and man the past 12 years I come back and you treat me no different.
“I can’t explain how it felt to be on court with my brothers again. This was the best feeling! I made my mind up years ago that I would no longer chase anything in this game but to get the message across that to keep going through adversity no matter what the critics say no matter what anyone says. Put your hard hat on and keep moving. Kansas I love you for understanding what I stand for no matter what.”