Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 11 No. 3 | January 2019

N ot long after the final horn sounded, signifying the end of Duke’s victory over Virginia Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski walked over to the Hokies’ bench and shook hands with each member of the Hokies’ coaching staff. Then he started shaking hands with each player before pausing for a moment when he reached Justin Robinson. “Tell your dad that you’re a way better player than he ever was,” Krzyzewski said, with a smile. Robinson, then a freshman who had scored eight points and handed out three assists off the bench in Tech’s 82-58 loss to Blue Devils, was surprised. He remembered his dad, Verdell, mentioning Krzyzewski in passing, but never really considered the two to be that close. “Apparently him and my dad always text and call each other,” Robinson said. “Then when we were at ACCMedia Day [in October], we [he and Krzyzewski] really, really crossed paths, and we talked a little bit about my dad and basketball in general. It was cool experience.” Before playing basketball at the University of Charleston in West Virginia in the mid-1970s, Verdell Robinson was drafted into the Army and spent nearly two years serving this country. While in the Army, he played for the post team—which happened to be coached by Krzyzewski, who graduated from West Point in 1969 and coached service teams as an officer before his discharge in 1974. He later embarked on a Hall of Fame coaching career, with stops at West Point (1975-80) and Duke (1980-current). Verdell Robinson certainly was a solid player both on his post team and at the University of Charleston. Yet without question, his best contribution to college basketball comes in the form of his youngest son, whom he molded, guided and coached into the young man who currently stands as one of the top players in the ACC. Verdell Robinson, wife Alyse—a great high school player in her own right—and their three oldest sons, who all played sports incollege aswell, probably knew Justin possessed a special sort of potential when he started doing the extraordinary as a toddler. “Every day, they would play basketball outside in front of the house, and ever since I was 2 or 3, I’d go out and watch them play and sit on my little basketball kiddie hoop outside,” Justin said. “One day, when I was around 3, I was just out there watching, and I put the ball between my legs. Ever since then, my brothers and my dad took advantage of it and just pushed me to become the best athlete I could be.” Robinson was great in every sport as a youth growing up in Manassas, Virginia. He excelled in baseball, and he played AAU football, even once going with his team to Florida for the Pop Warner League playoffs. But his parents astutely viewed basketball as his gift. Realizing that their youngest needed to face better competition and wanting him to get the best possible education, they secured a basketball tryout in front of Stu Vetter, the head coach at Montrose Christian, a private school in Rockville, Maryland. Vetter, who has coached eight NBA players—including superstar Kevin Durant—liked what he saw, but made no promises. 28 Inside Hokie Sports Justin Robinson gradually has established himself as one of the best point guards in Virginia Tech history, and the program’s rise to national prominence, perhaps not coincidentally, has followed suit by Jimmy Robertson