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Anthony Robinson II through the eyes of his high school coach, FSU legend Charlie Ward

Ward coached Robinson through one of the most successful runs in Florida high school basketball history at Florida State University HS.

NCAA Basketball: Wichita State at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After being put through the wringer by Nick Honor and Sean East II over the summer, freshman guard Anthony Robinson II has emerged as a quality piece on this Mizzou roster. Sure, the Tallahassee-native has had some freshman moments, but Robinson has also shown great poise, proven to be a pesky defender and provides a true spark for this team when he enters the game.

Averaging 4.3 PPG, 1.9 RBG and 1.2 APG, Robinson has shown flashes of his immense potential while adjusting to life in the SEC, fighting through an illness and dealing with the passing of his grandmother. And, the benefits of learning behind veterans such as Honor and East will surely pay dividends when he is counted upon to be a leader at the guard spot next season.

Robinson was rated as a 3-star recruit out of Florida State University High School, where he played under Charlie Ward and produced a résumé that rivals that of the greatest high school basketball players of all time. Recording a 109-25 record, Robinson ranks as the all-time winningest high school player in the state of Florida. He won four district championships, was named to the 2022 All-State First Team and won the 3A State Championship in 2022.

Ward, a former dual-sport athlete at Florida State that many sports fans may know from his Heisman-winning season with the Noles and 11-year career with the New York Knicks, took the time to speak to me about his former player and how he’s evaluated Robinson’s development at Mizzou thus far.

Q: First and foremost, your thoughts on how Anthony Robinson II has performed thus far for Mizzou?

A: “He’s a type of student athlete that prepared himself for it. After our season last year, he went and put on some weight, dedicated himself to doing that because he saw that was a need for him to get an opportunity to play early. And I know that was beneficial for him.”

“He comes from a great family of athletes and they preach the right things at home. So him being in the community and those types of things, that’s just part of his DNA where he was raised. And so, for him to get an opportunity as a freshman to get some experience, it’s very valuable for him.”

“He’s accustomed to it. He started playing varsity basketball in eighth grade. And so it was a challenge for him early on, but he learned how to compete at a high level and so this is nothing new for him. And now he has a sense of being put into the fire early on and trying to figure it out as a young player and just the valuable experience that he’s gained this year. You know, he’s has ups and downs, just like everyone. But, for him, he’ll continue to learn and continue to get better, and I’m just happy for him.”

Q: What about Robinson convinced you that he could come in and do what he’s doing now, playing significant minutes for an SEC team as a true freshman?

A: “Well, it’s his approach. His expectation was to go in and compete, which, as I mentioned, his foundation was based upon that he had to learn at an early age and he was just that way. He competed in practice all the time. against our guys. And when Tre Donaldson (sophomore guard at Auburn) was on our team, I used to put Donaldson and Robinson against one another all the time and it was always a great battle. Neither one of them liked to lose.”

“His goal and mission was to go in and compete at a high level and if he got an opportunity to play, you know, that’d be great. If not, it was a great learning experience for this year, but he’s been able to crack the lineup because of just the way he’s approached his work and school and all the different things that they ask of him, so he’s put himself in that position to earn some minutes by doing the little things.”

Q: How have you seen him develop as a player in his first season at the collegiate level?

A: “It’s really nothing he hasn’t done before. As I mentioned, he’s just playing at a different level now, so all the things that you’re seeing, he’s done here before. So it’s nothing really new. He’s just on a different stage.”

“And, of course, he’s had to tailor his game towards what their system and their coaches want. And, there’s things that he could do in high school that he can’t do there in college. But he’s coachable. So he’s been able to make that adjustment with not only handling the basketball, but you know, playing with his teammates and defensively, being able to stay in front of guys and not reaching like he was doing high school. But all those things you know, you learn at the next level. But he’s not doing anything that’s very surprising.”

Q: What comes to mind when you think of what kind of player and person Robinson was in high school?

A: “He was super competitive. Sometimes it got to a point where it would go overboard if he didn’t win, but he had to learn how to respond to that. We kept challenging him in that area, but he’s grown, like I said, tremendously. And I think maturity helps. You know, it helps a lot when you’re in a different environment and the expectations are different from an entire group. And you kind of fit in that way. But like I said, we had to help him understand how to lose, which is a great characteristic to have.”

“Something he had to learn over the course of his time as well was how to be a great teammate, because he was at such a high level and if others weren’t playing to his standard or his level, he didn’t know how to communicate with them. And so all those things are teachable moments for him and I think he learned how to do it so that his teammates could respond well to him. And I think that’s helped him where he is now to where you know, he’s a willing listener, learner. But he’s also a leader in a lot of ways with how he responds and goes about his business.”

“He spoke to the team (Florida State University School) recently because as you know, his grandmother passed away, and so he was here for the funeral. And we had a game that night so I have him a chance to speak to the team after the game and he shared some valuable wisdom that he’s learned from his time and what he saw during the game as well. It was great feedback.”

Q: What are your best memories of Robinson from his days within your program?

A: “He was one of our guys that was serious when he got on the court. But off the court, he was very silly. He was a dancer, doing silly dances before or after workouts. But, when he was on the court? He was all serious and business-minded, which is what you want from your leaders.”

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

Q: What do you think is the potential of Robinson as he continues to develop?

A: “Once he continues to develop and grow as a player, he will command the same type of success that he had here at Florida High. So he’ll be a great player, and I’ve been able to coach three pros in my opinion. Two of them are in college right now (Robinson, Donaldson) and one is with the Knicks G League team (Jaylen Martin). And so he has the ability to be there as he continues to develop as a player because mentality and skill level-wise, he’s capable of being a great leader.”

And if you’d like to read our own Matthew Harris’ initial preview of Anthony Robinson II before he joined the roster, you can find that here.