Muggsy Bogues doesn't view Mount St. Mary's guard Junior Robinson as a short-time star - The Buffalo News
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Muggsy Bogues doesn't view Mount St. Mary's guard Junior Robinson as a short-time star

Muggsy Bogues saw it, too.

The shortest player in NBA history was watching Tuesday night when the smallest player in NCAA Division I basketball frustrated his opponents so badly, teammates started to choke each other.

Mount St. Mary's point guard Steve Lamont "Junior" Robinson -- all 5 feet and 5 inches of him -- played every minute and scored a game-high 23 points in a victory over New Orleans.

"It's a magnet," Bogues said from his home in Charlotte, "when you hear about a small guy out there, pursuing his dream and showcasing his talent and letting folks know he's capable of playing at any level."

Robinson made the jump shot to go ahead for good with 87 seconds to play, advancing The Mount to KeyBank Center for Thursday night's game against No. 1 Villanova.

By the way, Robinson can dunk. If you're going to KeyBank Center, then get in your seats early. His pregame warmup routine is said to be must-watch stuff.

You won't even need to squint. Robinson will jump out to you with his nearly 40-inch vertical.

"It's just unbelievable," said Bogues, who is 5 foot 3 and played 14 NBA seasons. "It'll be exciting to watch him get another shot to put his team on his shoulders and get another upset."

The Mount, with Robinson as the stinger, pestered New Orleans to the point of combustion.

With 6:36 to play, New Orleans forward Travin Thibodeaux went after guard Christavious Gill during a timeout. Perhaps Thibodeaux, a pre-dentistry major, wanted to give his buddy a quick checkup. Either way, Thibodeaux was benched for the rest of the game.

New Orleans, without its fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder on the floor, lost by a point.

Mount St. Mary's made the NCAA Tournament by winning the one-bid Northeast Conference. Tuesday was only The Mount's 20th victory, but it tilted windmills early in the season against eventual tournament teams such as West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas and Bucknell.

Robinson, a junior in class and nickname, averages 14.3 points and 2.9 assists a game. He's shooting 39.9 percent on three-point attempts that have crazy arc. He's making 86.8 percent of his free throws.

"It don't just go with the size," Bogues said. "By him having that skill set and mind set and knowing he can change the outcome of the game, he knows he can carry his team. No matter what, he's capable of still getting the job done."

Robinson's prep stats suggest a blue-chip recruit. He was all-North Carolina as a junior and a senior at Eastern Alamance High. He finished his career 17th on the state's all-time scoring list and third in free throws.

But at 5-foot-5? Many schools can't see beyond that.

Bogues compared Robinson's emergence to that of 5-foot-9 Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. In his sixth NBA season, Thomas is averaging 29.2 points and 6.0 assists. He entered this season averaging 17.1 points and 5.0 assists over his career.

"Little guys have a place in this game," Bogues said. "It's guard-oriented, and when you find a way and find a niche, you can become unstoppable.

"That's what he's finding out. He knows he can play with just the best. If you play with the best and have success against the best, then you've got to be included with the best."

Bogues was All-ACC as a Wake Forest senior. The university retired his No. 14 jersey.

But he experienced the NCAA Tournament only once, in 1984. Wake Forest reached the Sweet 16 with Bogues a freshman off the bench. He was a quirky, little human-interest story then.

That's the case with Junior Robinson at the moment. Robinson didn't even have a Wikipedia page as of Wednesday afternoon.

But, as Bogues proved, there might be more to come for Robinson regardless of what the tape measure says.

"I'm proud of him that he has that confidence to play at that level," Bogues said, "to get a Division I scholarship and play for Mount St. Mary's, a program that always had the ability to pull an upset.

"Especially with how the game is being played today, I'm loving the things that he's doing."

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