Leslie Robinson ’18 could have gone to another school instead of Princeton, where she followed the path of her father, two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Craig Robinson ’83, and aunt Michelle Robinson Obama ’85. It may have been easier.
But that’s not how the Robinsons roll, she said: “It’s just not in our blood to take the easy way.”
The standards were just as high with the Princeton women’s basketball team. In Robinson’s freshman year, the Tigers went 30–0 in the regular season and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Whether it’s family, school, or her team, she has only known great expectations.
“It’s what drives me,” Robinson said. “It’s what gets me up in the morning, it’s what makes me want to study harder, it makes me want to lift more when we’re at strength and conditioning, and makes me want to run faster.”
“She’s been around such impressive people, [and] as a result I think she’s impressive,” said Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart, who adds that Robinson has never been overshadowed by her famous family “because she’s such a gifted leader and competitor in her own right.”
Robinson has the deep knowledge of a coach’s daughter, which helps her to play center, a position where she often guards players three or four inches taller than she is. She wears her father’s No. 45, and Hall of Fame men’s coach Pete Carril often tells her how similarly they look and play.
“She has a great understanding of where people are on the floor and who can help us where,” Banghart said. “The offense, in a lot of ways, runs through her.”
Robinson, a co-captain this season, plays with contagious emotion. Last year, her game reached a new level with career highs of 10.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. She was a second-team All-Ivy selection and finished second in the league in field-goal percentage.
Robinson opened the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds in a Nov. 10 win over George Washington. Princeton will be looking for more of the same as the Tigers aim to unseat Penn, the two-time defending Ivy champion, preseason favorite, and opponent in the Tigers’ league opener Jan. 6.