“The most satisfying thing for me over the last four years is the family of sisters I am leaving with; from the seniors when I was a freshman to the freshmen when I was a senior,” Robinson said. “We have been able to do so much together; we have won together, lost together, cried together and laughed together.
“Not every team loves each other, but we definitely do. Going 30-0; getting an at-large NCAA bid; winning the Ivy League Tournament and the Ivy outright—the team makes that all happen.”
This past season as a senior co-captain, Robinson averaged 10 points, seven rebounds, and better than four assists per game. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 24-6, including a 12-2 conference record. Her team’s success, coupled with personal accolades, led to a pleasant surprise on April 12th. Robinson became the first Princeton product to ever be selected in the WNBA draft. The New York Liberty chose her 34th overall.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Robinson said. “I was hanging out with my Princeton team and the men’s team as well. We turned it (WNBA draft) on because of my general interest in where my AAU teammates were going to be going, and then my name popped up on the TV screen, and we all just freaked out.”
Robinson joined the Liberty for training camp, but she did not make the opening day roster.
“The competition was great,” she said. “It was good to play against the best, and learn from some of the best. I am constantly adding to my game, and adding to my network of people in the basketball world. It was fun.”
Robinson plans on pursuing her professional basketball career in the fall, playing overseas.
“I took Spanish in high school and at the Princeton language department,” Robinson shared. “If I could go to a Spanish-speaking country that would be amazing and I could grow that. If not, I would want to go to a place that doesn’t speak English because I want to learn about another culture and I think the best way to do that is through language. It is something I will embrace while playing overseas.”
Robinson has never been one to shy away from a challenge. That very characteristic led her to enrolling at Princeton in the first place. Her father, Craig Robinson, played for the Tigers in the 80’s, and was twice named Ivy League Player of the Year. For some, following such a family legacy would be overwhelming. For the younger Robinson however, it was an opportunity.
“At first I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps,” Robinson recalled. “But then I thought about how it is 35 years later that I would be starting at Princeton, and I am a woman. It would be an entirely different experience. The university is different; Princeton basketball is different today.
“At first I was a little hesitant, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. I have always been a daddy’s girl. It’s been great to have this experience with him, but also have separate experiences if that makes sense.”
It makes total sense. With her dad often looking on from the stands, Leslie blossomed into a tough, all-around player. On March 2nd of this year, Robinson did herself, her teammates, her coaching staff, and her dad proud recording the first-ever women’s triple-double in Princeton history.
“It was so amazing how excited my teammates were for me,” Robinson said. “Gabrielle Rush wanted to hit that shot so bad for me. She said pass me the ball I am going to make this shot so you can get this (10th) assist. It goes to show how much we care about each other and want each other to succeed.”
That night also separated her Princeton journey from her father’s collegiate career.
“He never did,” Robinson replied when asked if her Dad ever recorded a triple-double. “It is one thing that I can say I did better than him.”
She can also say she is the niece of a former President of the United States, has casually hung out at the White House, and is a better basketball talent than her older brother Avery.
“He definitely knows his hoops,” Robinson said of her uncle, Barack Obama. “He knows how to play. He can hold his own in a pick-up game. And he enjoys watching the game for sure.”
As for hanging out at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “Many times,” Robinson said. “It was just their house. It would be like you going to your cousins’ house, your aunt and uncle’s house, but their home happened to be a pretty famous one.”
And like most families, Leslie enjoys a positive sibling rivalry with her brother who is four years her elder and played basketball at Division III Wesleyan in Connecticut.
“I would like to think I am better than my older brother Avery,” Robinson said with confidence, not a tone of cockiness. “I do work out with him, and he would do anything to help me. I have the greatest support system. But I would say, as a player, I am on a higher level than him.”
That confidence has been growing with her game these past four years. Robinson will walk with it in her cap and gown. She will carry it abroad when her next basketball challenge confronts her. It’s part of who this 22-year old Princeton educated woman is.
“I was born in Chicago, lived in Corvallis, Oregon, went to college in New Jersey,” Robinson says with pride. “I like to say I am versatile on the court and versatile in life.”