November 10, 2010
By David Driver
For the News & Messenger
Used with permission
Coming out of Battlefield High School, Jamie Robinson explored the opportunity of playing Division I-AA college football. A standout wide receiver a year ago where he caught an area-high 36 passes for 553 yards in helping the Bobcats reach the Division 6 state semifinals, Robinson was in contact with coaches at Colgate, William and Mary and Holy Cross and made visits to the latter two schools.
But now the Gainesville resident is playing college sports as a freshman at the Division III level. But the sport is not football. Robinson is a 6-foot-3 guard at Randolph-Macon, the school just north of Richmond in Ashland that advanced to the national semifinals in Division III basketball last season before falling to Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
So why did the two-sport star at Battlefield turn down the shot at football at a higher level?
“The love for basketball. I couldn't give it up,” said Robinson, the Cedar Run District co-Player of the Year and an all-Northwest Region selection after averaging 16.7 points per game last season as the Bobcats reached regionals for the third straight year. “Basketball has always been my favorite sport.”
“We are very fortunate that he liked our school and liked our program and wanted to be part of it,” said Nathan Davis, the head basketball coach at Randolph-Macon and a former Division I assistant. “He is going to be an important player for us, if not this year then down the road.”
Robinson joins a Yellow Jackets team that was ranked No. 3 in a pre-season Division III poll by The Sporting News and No. 2 by D3hoops.com.
He also joins a former high school playoff foe in Calvin Croskey, a junior guard from Osbourn Park High School. A Manassas resident, the 6-foot Croskey started 32 of his 33 games last year, averaged 8.5 points per game and scored at least 10 points in four NCAA tournament games.
This year Croskey has moved from point guard to shooting guard, but he will still bring the ball up the court, especially when starting senior point guard Eric Pugh in on the bench.
“We are all out there with the same goal. Everyone on this team is very close,” Croskey said. “We all want to win. We have chemistry.”
While he was not a Division I prospect coming out of high school, Croskey showed he can now compete at a higher level when Randolph-Macon played at Division I American in the nation's capital on Nov. 4 in an exhibition game. Croskey had nine points, including a key basket late in the game, but the Yellow Jackets fell short of an upset in a 61-55 loss to a team picked to win the Patriot League this season.
Croskey played last year for Randolph-Macon when they beat host American in an exhibition game. He was injured as a freshman in 2008 when the Yellow Jackets won an exhibition at the Patriot Center against George Mason, annually one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association. Croskey saw limited time as a freshman when Randolph-Macon lost in a regular-season game at Richmond, another Division I program.
“You can see now he can compete with those guys out there,” Davis said after the loss at American. “Last year as a sophomore we worked him a lot at the point. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. Now he can be more of a scorer.”
The exhibition against American felt like a regular-season game, as both coaches played their starters down the stretch.
“They were ready for us this time,” Croskey said of American, coached by former University of Virginia head coach Jeff Jones. “It is still basketball. It is the same game. We wanted to win. They wanted to win. It was their night.”
AU's Vlad Moldoveanu, a transfer from George Mason, had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Croskey, a business major, led Osbourn Park to two league titles and was an all-conference and all-state player. He averaged 17.1 points, 3.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game as a senior and was an academic all-conference performer. He said academics is a major focus in college, but added he would love the chance to play professionally overseas once his career is done in Ashland.
“Hopefully I won't have a desk job and can go overseas,” he said, with a smile. “I just work in class every day. I try to be the best basketball player I can.”
Randolph-Macon was picked to finish second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference behind Eastern Mennonite, which was ranked No. 3 in the nation by D3hoops.com to start this season. The Yellow Jackets begin the season at home Nov. 15 against Marymount of Arlington in a non-league game. "The ODAC is going to be very even. We have four teams in the top 25," Croskey said. "It is a very tough conference, one of the best in Division III basketball."
Virginia Wesleyan (12th) and Guilford (19th), also in the ODAC, were ranked in the pre-season by D3hoops.com.
While Croskey has one more year after this season, Robinson is just beginning his college career. He had 17 points in an exhibition game Nov. 1 against a team from Australia but did not play at American due to a coaches' decision. Davis said Randolph-Macon has several upperclassmen and that AU was a physical team.
“He can make shots," Davis, an assistant at Navy, Colgate and Bucknell and a graduate of Randolph-Macon, said of Robinson. “He can play the one, two or three. He is going to help us out. I don't see any reason why he can't push to play (key minutes) this year. It is a work in progress.”
College football's loss is a gain for Randolph-Macon basketball. And the Yellow Jackets will take aim at another trip to the Final Four this season, but this time with two Prince William products.