With about a minute to go in Wednesday night’s nailbiter against Virginia Tech, Boston College men’s basketball’s Jerome Robinson picked Chris Clarke’s pocket, pushed the ball up the court, planted his feet at the top of the arc and lined up a 3-pointer. He didn’t get the shot to fall, but the junior did get the call—well, calls. Justin Bibbs got a piece of Robinson’s hand on the 3-point attempt, gifting the 6-foot-5 combo guard three free throws. Seconds later, out of apparent frustration, Clarke—who turned the ball over at the start of this wild sequence—got T’d up.
The boneheaded mistake tacked on two more shots at the charity stripe for the Eagles. But unlike a shooting foul, head coach Jim Christian could have picked anyone to step up and take the pair of technical free throws. Robinson didn’t give him, nor Jordan Chatman—at the time, the third-best free throw shooter in the ACC—a chance to make a change. There was no doubt in his mind that he was shooting all five of those shots.
“I just knew the first two would get me in a rhythm for the three in a row,” Robinson told reporters following the game.
That they did: The junior netted all five of the successive free throws, turning a seven-point game into a one-possession thriller. It was only a matter of time before Robinson drew another personal, this time driving to the basket. Two more free throws, and the game was tied. After missing the game-winning shot at the buzzer, the Raleigh, N.C. native took a few more trips to the line in overtime. When all was said and done, Robinson finished 12-of-13 from the stripe on the night, setting a career high in free throw conversions.
His performance was anything but a fluke. This season, Robinson has knocked down 83.5 percent of his free throw attempts, good for 11th in the conference—a stat that has been clouded by his much-improved 3-point marksmanship.
Prior to this year, Robinson was a below average free throw shooter. As a freshman, he hovered around the 64-percent mark. Although his numbers jumped in 2016-17, a 72.2-percent clip wasn’t anything to brag about either.
The problem has never been getting to the line.
Robinson has always had a knack for absorbing contact. In fact, last season he averaged 5.1 free throw attempts per game—0.4 more than he’s recorded during this year’s campaign. Yet, as an underclassmen, he struggled to actually capitalize on those scoring opportunities, ultimately throwing away quite a few points at the stripe.
This year has been a different story. Robinson’s percentage has skyrocketed, all while the junior has maintained a high volume of free throw attempts. Only one of the ACC’s top-10 free throw shooters has racked up more shots at the stripe than Robinson this season. While many point to Chatman—who’s on the edge of the 88-percent mark—as the Eagles’ best free throw shooter, it’s important to note that the former BYU transfer has only taken slightly more than half the attempts that Robinson has.
What’s even more impressive is that the combo guard thrives the most under pressure. He’s shooting 85.7 percent from the line during ACC play, better than all but seven players in the conference, including Chatman. And, in the second half of contests, he’s been close to flawless since late November. Over the course of the past 15 games, Robinson has drained 88.2 percent of his free throw attempts in the back half of play.
Along with Ky Bowman and Chatman, the junior shoulders his team’s scoring burden on a nightly basis, but, just like anyone else, Robinson has his off days. Instead of shooting his way out of a slump like Bowman has tried to do in the past, Robinson takes the ball to the rack, because—as evidenced by Wednesday’s game—all it takes is a few shots to get him going.
Graphics by Nicole Chan and Andy Backstrom / Heights Editors
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor