When he finally got to play, speculation began almost immediately that he might turn pro after the season. Some observers believe that he returned to Purdue this season only because he wasn't a consensus first-team All-America. Robinson denies that but does say, "I guarantee you, if the pro scouts selected the All-Americas, I'd have been first team."
What did influence his decision to remain at Purdue was the Boilermakers' first-round dismissal by Rhode Island in the NCAA tournament. "I felt we didn't really accomplish anything," he says. "I felt I would have left my teammates hanging if I had gone out on that note."
He also says, "Naturally, you don't want to leave your friends. That's the main reason I didn't leave last year. Also, I felt last year I wasn't mature yet. I wasn't ready to go off into that big world yet. Out there you have to be able to deal with girls, agents, people trying to give you drugs—all that stuff. One morning I'll wake up and I'll know it's time."
That time is drawing closer. Robinson no longer appears to be unready to venture out into that big world. However much Purdue coach Gene Keady may hope that Robinson won't leave until he has won an NCAA championship for the Boilermakers—something that, Keady says almost imploringly, is still a year away—Robinson no longer considers the team's performance in the tournament a determining factor in his calculations.
He has been somewhat disillusioned by what he considers to be profiteering by Purdue's campus bookstores at his expense. The stores had sold thousands of T-shirts bearing likenesses of Big Dog until he made his displeasure known and put a stop to the practice. "I felt I was exploited," says Robinson. "They played me like I was a dumb kid. They think I'm supposed to see a Big Dog T-shirt and just smile because they put my picture on it. Meanwhile they're smiling and they've got a pocketful of my money."
It sounds as if Robinson is ready to fend for himself in the rough-and-tumble business environment that awaits him after college. He's learning quickly that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.