Former Winthrop men’s basketball player Mantoris Robinson has his first Division I assistant coaching job.
Robinson has joined the staff of new Appalachian State coach Jim Fox, who was hired earlier this month after 13 years as an assistant coach at Davidson. Fox replaced Jason Capel, who was let go after four seasons and a 53-70 record.
Robinson arrives in Boone after two years as an assistant at Division II school Fairmont State (W.Va.). Fox’s new staff also includes Jason Allison and Bryan Lentz.
“Mantoris was highly recommended from people in all circles of the collegiate coaching ranks,” Fox said in a statement released by Appalachian State. “As a player, he was a part of championship teams at Winthrop and knows what it takes to win. He has already begun sharing that knowledge with our players and relates to them very well. Manny is an asset both on and off the court and I am extremely happy to have him on our staff.
During his stint at Fairmont State, Robinson helped the Falcons to back-to-back 20-win seasons, including a 23-9 record and an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in 2012-13. In his two seasons at Fairmont State, Robinson coached five all-conference selections. He also caught the eye of opposing coaches around the area, many of whom recommended the former Eagle defensive standout to Fox.
“You never know who’s watching, you never know who’s gonna speak highly of you,” said Robinson. “That’s what happened with me at Winthrop, being a positive guy in the community, always trying to go out and show my face and help, it carries a lot of weight.”
Fox would have seen Robinson, who suited up for Winthrop from 2006 to 2010 and was a two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year, play in person twice. Winthrop lost both times to Davidson, but Robinson was defensively excellent in the first meeting Feb. 22, 2008, an ESPN Bracketbuster game in Rock Hill. He held NBA sharpshooter Stephen Curry to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-9 from 3-point range, though Davidson won 60-47.
Curry was a little better in the two teams’ second meeting the following year. He scored 30 and dished out 13 assists in a 97-70 win over the Eagles. Fox offered a gentle reminder about the results of those games when the two spoke initially.
“We had a conversation on the phone and we kind of hit it off,” said Robinson.
Toughness and defensive attentiveness were two of the things Fox liked about Robinson, as a player and now a coach. Those traits were fortified during Robinson’s Winthrop career under head coaches Gregg Marshall and Randy Peele. Robinson reached out to Marshall and Peele when he started thinking about becoming a coach several years back.
“They had a great effect on my life, and I want to do the same,” said Robinson. “I want to give back, I want to help young men develop and become whatever they want to be.”
Appalachian and Winthrop should play again this coming season, likely in Boone though the schedule has not yet been set in stone.
“I’m sure it’ll be exciting,” said Robinson. “A lot of memories.”
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T