Get Your Head in the Game

Basketball Is Life for Cal's Theo Robertson. The Right People Have Noticed Exactly That.

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Search through the archives of the local newspapers and rarely does anything come up.

He was arguably the best player on the premier high school basketball team in the Bay Area and is currently Cal's most complete weapon, but few people know anything about him.

The past two years, he's had the Bears' most reliable stroke from beyond the arc. In fact, he's the most accurate three-point shooter in school history.

Standing at just 6-foot-6, he is still able to guard almost any position.

Yet, even when presented all this information, you still don't have a good guess who this article is about.

That's just fine with Theo Robertson, though.

He knows he's overlooked, but he also knows that in the end, it won't matter. For Robertson, talent isn't measured by how many interviews he gets or the cheers he elicits. His play will be the thing that takes him to next level.

That's why Robertson spends almost eight hours a day in the offseason working on his game. It's why he doesn't concern himself with the number of shots he gets or how many awards he collects.

"My goal was to come here and win and become a better basketball player," Robertson says. "I'll get an opportunity hopefully when my career is over to showcase what I can do, but even then, I don't know how that would change who I am. I'd still be a guy that would come in, and help a team win in whatever capacity they needed me to do that."

It's this selfless approach to the game that keeps Robertson in the shadows of some of his current teammates.

As his life has proven, though, the people that truly matter haven't overlooked Robertson.

De La Salle High basketball coach Frank Allocco, Sr., first took notice almost 10 years ago.

Up to that point, Robertson didn't have much experience-he hardly played AAU basketball. Still, there was something noticeable about Robertson's skills in the De La Salle High gymnasium.

"I saw him catch a pass and I called my assistant over and said, 'Come here, I want you to see the next great De La Salle player,'" Allocco says. "Just the way he caught the ball and he ripped it, really aggressively, whereas most freshmen would back pedal."

Robertson earned a spot on the junior varsity team that year and was brought up to varsity at the end of the season. Still, Allocco knew Robertson needed more development.

"He had some real serious flaws in his jump shot," says Allocco. "I had him come to the shooting camp I run, and I worked with him for about 20 minutes. What blew me away is that he changed his shot that day and never went back to his old shot. I thought that was amazing he could change right then and reprogram his muscle memory."

The rest was history. Then-Cal coach Ben Braun spotted Robertson at De La Salle and, to Allocco's delight, stated that Robertson had "one of the most natural shooting strokes" he's ever seen. It was yet another example of the right person spotting Robertson's talents. Three years later, Braun tested his faith in Allocco by signing Robertson, and the dividends are still paying off for the program.

Senior Jerome Randle has called Robertson the "best teammate (he's) ever had" and the player that "makes this team go."

Indeed, it is Robertson who has to guard several positions, snag backside rebounds, hit big shots and grab loose balls. His versatility, along with his unselfishness, has earned him a moniker as the "help guy" on this squad. The thing is, Robertson could very well be the go-to guy on most teams.

"If you put him in a situation where he is a primary scorer, he would shock a lot of people with the skill set he has and his basketball IQ," teammate Patrick Christopher says. "It's not sad, but when you do so much and don't get a lot of credit for it, it's unfortunate."

Hearing Robertson, it's apparent that he's content with his role.

"I like to think myself as the jack of all trades," says Robertson. "It's not the most glamorous role, but I just want to win. My main focus at Cal has always been to win and become a better basketball player."

Both winning and the desire to improve were instilled in him during his De La Salle days. The school has a tradition of developing professional athletes, making it all the more difficult for a player if he doesn't make it to the next level. It was also at De La Salle where Robertson learned greater insight about values such as teamwork and accountability. In other words, all the traits that make up the player he is today.

"There's no selfishness or desire to stand out," says Allocco. "He's a team-first guy who's focused on winning and doing whatever it takes to win. I hope the next-level people understand that he's a real winner."

Robertson does have some draft buzz right now, as evidenced by his profile on NBADraft.net. He's currently listed as a late second-round pick in its mock draft. And while scouts are obviously paying attention, the lack of recognition from the fans and media does sting Robertson a bit.

"I'm human too, but I'm not too concerned with that," he says. "I know I can play. It's evident in how efficient my numbers are and that's my situation. Just being efficient and helping the team."

Tags: JAMAL BOYKIN, CAL MEN'S BASKETBALL, JEROME RANDLE, MARCH MADNESS 2010, MIKE MONTGOMERY


Contact Jimmy Tran at [email protected]



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