UVU a preferred destination for men’s basketball team’s Robison

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Alyssa Synakowski, Sports Features Editor, @synakowsk

First appearing in print on October 6, 2014.

Picking a college is hard for high school seniors, but picking a school where they’ll play athletics makes the decision more difficult.

Eli Robison was determined to play basketball at the Division I level, even if it meant taking an unconventional route.

Robison, a local hero at Timpview High School, led his team to the 2009-10 4A high school state championship game where he contributed on both ends of the court to pick up wins and bring the hardware home.

Despite being one of two seniors starting for his team, and picking up an MVP award along the way, Robison found few colleges willing to offer him a scholarship to play basketball.

After Robison turned down Brigham Young University, where he was accepted for stellar academic achievements, he verbally committed to go to Western Nebraska Community College.

Six days before he was due to report at Western Nebraska, he got a much-anticipated call from coach Hunsaker offering him a scholarship. Robison accepted.

Although he received little help taking the next the step from his high school coach, Robison personally reached out to Hunsaker after his senior year season had completed.

“I went to coach Hunsaker and I gave him my highlight tape and talked to him a little bit,” Robison said, “and pretty much came to the conclusion that if I was going to play there I was just going to walk on.”

His change of mind seemed to occur over the summer. Robison participated on a few travel teams after high school and noticed Hunsaker and his assistants watching the games, but he never thought much of it.

“I thought they were watching someone else because I had already talked to them,” Robison said.

Time has played out and Robison now begins this year as a sophomore with the team after redshirting during the 2010-11 season, then serving a two-year mission for the LDS church in the Ukraine Donetsk Mission and winning a WAC championship with the team his first year back.

Robison came out of high school as a forward/center, scoring most of his points in the T-Birds’ patented transition game. He took a redshirt year in order to transition to a new position that would better help his new team.

But at UVU, his 6-foot-5-inch, 200-pound frame fits perfectly as a shooting guard. Robison is willing to do what it takes to develop his game in order to help the team win.

“My shooting has definitely improved, but I think the most improvement is my ball handling and confidence on the court,” said Robison, who emphasized parts of his game that needed coaching. “I lifted weights all this summer. … I got a little bit stronger and it has helped me develop more of a court presence.”

It is too early to tell who will get the starting nod because NCAA regulations only allow the team two hours a week with Hunsaker until official practice begins later this month.

But Robison, a guy who only knows how to win, will do what it takes this season to help his team have consecutive winning seasons.