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February 18, 2013

Meet Garrett Robert

He's part of an extended basketball family, one with college and professional roots. Standing 6-foot-3, he possesses that most unteachable of skills: the vision that allows him to get the ball to his teammates where they can succeed, even if they aren't fully aware of their own positioning. So college recruiters just might want to check out Garrett Robert.

No, this is not Sidd Finch redux. Robert is a 2013 prospect out of Rincon Valley Christian (RVC) High in Santa Rosa, who counts the Tiedemans, Tyler and Zac, of Boise State and Santa Clara/Humboldt State basketball participation respectively as cousins on his mother's side.

A starter on the varsity since his freshman season, Robert puts up solid numbers despite not playing the minutes when Rincon Valley is far ahead which has been often in a 23-3, 14-0 thus far season.

A sample Robert résumé from this season:

- December 22 versus Upper Lake, with 22 points, six assists, five blocks
- December 29 versus College Prep, with 22 points
- January 11 versus St. Vincent, with 17 points, 10 steals, eight assists
- January 23 versus Roseland Prep, with 15 points, five assists
- January 29 versus Calistoga, with 13 points, eight assists
- February 2 versus Rio Lindo, with 25 points, six assists, six steals
- February 9 versus St. Vincent, with seven points, 11 rebounds and four assists

He adjusts his game focus in order to do what is needed for his team to have the best chance of success that night. An example: on December 5 against Ukiah High in a game Robert was to sit out due to injury, he entered the game in the third quarter with Rincon Valley down by 18. After posting 19 points, three assists and three steals, RVC won 64-60 in overtime

Robert didn't play club team ball while in high school but the reason was the cost being prohibitive. Regarding questions about the game competition he is facing in playing for a Division VI school, it's true that no Ivan Rabbs, Aaron Gordons and Noah Allens are in opposing uniforms but RVC has played against a number of higher level opponents and, regardless, he's not accomplishing his numbers against mannequins.

Plus, court vision and basketball skills know no boundaries.

Darren Nelson, a former Santa Rosa Junior College player, is the RVC head coach and the following is his assessment:

"Garrett sees the floor better than any player I have ever played with or coached. He has an uncanny ability to not only find open teammates after drawing defenders to himself, but also to hit them right where they need it to score. He throws exceptional no-look passes with ease. He is also one of the best midrange jump shooters I have ever seen in high school. In a tough game this year with the other team's best, most athletic, defender on him, Garrett was able to break him down one-on-one and dominate on the offensive end. This player was bigger and stronger than Garrett, but Garrett was just too skilled for him to defend."

Nelson continued, "His defense -- especially on-ball -- has really improved recently as he is becoming more and more athletic. As athletic and smooth as he looks, I think he is just now tapping into his natural athleticismm displaying exceptional body control and moves that make fans ooh and ahh. It isn't rare to see him grab rebounds above-the-rim."

He finished with, "Garrett loves a challenge and has led our team to multiple big wins by controlling the game in crunch time. As things tighten up toward the end he shows surprising poise and finds ways for his team to score. You will have a hard time finding a kid with a better, more selfless attitude. Even outside of his skills, Garrett is a player I am very proud to put on the floor every night. He has great character, he pushes himself and his teammates every day in practice and is a coach on the floor in practice and in games."

Robert's trainer Leo Gorauskas, who is also an assistant coach at RVC, played professionally in Brazil, Portugal and France.

Here's Gorauskas on his protégé: "Garrett is a very good kid who is tall for a point, smart, sees the floor very well and is a good shooter. He's very quick, he can jump and he isn't afraid of contact. Garrett would be a really good get at the NAIA level but I can also see him playing at a smaller D-I school."

Former Arizona star Craig McMillan who also played overseas and is the longtime head coach at Santa Rosa Junior College, has taken notice of Robert's play and would surely welcome a backcourter to a program that sends guards on to four-year schools with annual regularity.

So why hoops for this young man?

"I came to basketball as a young age," Robert recalled. "I fell in love with it as a seven-year old in church league even though I scored just two points the first season. But I was up to a hundred in the second season."

He's come quite the way since then.

Asked to identify his plus basketball skills, he offered,"It's definitely my ballhandling and my vision of the court -- where to look to find guys." He sees when and where teammates have angles and gets them the ball with no-look passes that have opponents scrambling to cover the direction where his eyes are focused.

So how did he develop this knack?

"Being around the Tiedemans certainly helped," Robert explained. "I was always watching Zac" who always led his teams in assists. "That and just watching a lot of basketball."

This quote gets to the heart of the matter: "As a freshman, I knew I was a good player but learned I had the ability to be better. The biggest thing that helped me was gaining confidence."

What's his best memory involving hoops? "It was when I was a sophomore and we were in the playoffs against San Francisco Waldorf. We were down by 18 at half time but came back and got to go to NCS championship" as Rincon Valley won 55-53 on a last-second shot.

Robert is looking to major in sports management so as to stay around the game after his playing career concludes.


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