How a kid from New Hampshire made it from playing in Div. III to competing for the Div. I championship

Michigan fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson, who played in the Div. 3 national championship as a Williams freshman, hopes to come out on winning end of Monday’s Div. 1 national championship against Villanova. –Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — Michigan basketball once featured the Fab Five. The most celebrated collection of freshmen in college basketball history, they took Michigan to back-to-back Final Fours* (NCAA violations vacated those). Now, the Wolverines’ latest Final Four team features the Fab Find, fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson, who went from playing Division III hoops for Williams College to one win away from college basketball’s most coveted crown.

The New Castle, N.H.-bred baller has traveled an anfractuous path to the Final Four and the final game of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Monday’s night’s national title tilt between Michigan and Villanova at the Alamodome. His road from junior benchwarmer at Governor’s Academy in Byfield to star at Phillips Exeter (N.H.) Academy to freshman sensation for a Williams team that was five seconds away from winning a national title in 2014 to Michigan Man is storybook stuff.


Mr. Robinson is the first player to play in both the Division 3 and Division 1 Final Fours. He is believed to be the first Division 3 player to transfer to a Division 1 school and receive a full scholarship. The 6-foot-8-inch sharpshooter is a Wolverines captain and leads the team in 3-pointers with 78.

How does a player who wasn’t recruited by Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, UMass, the University of New Hampshire, or the University of Maine and had one offer to play Division 2 basketball from Merrimack College end up as the 53d 1,000-point scorer in the history of Michigan basketball and on a team playing for the national championship?

“A lot of luck, a lot of things breaking and falling your way,’’ said Robinson, who sat out the 2014-15 season after transferring. “There’s no [blueprint] for it quite frankly. It just kind of had to all come together, and fortunately for me it did. It’s a once-in-five-lifetimes situation that something like that happens.

“I’m fully aware that I’m an anomaly, not because there are players in Division 3 who aren’t good enough. But more so just because things have to fall your way.’’

Michigan’s Duncan Robinson was in rare company as the only basketball player in NCAA history to play in both the Div. 3 and Div. 1 basketball national championships. “I’m fully aware that I’m an anomaly,’’ said the New Castle, N.H., native. —Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press


Finish reading the rest of Christopher Gasper’s column on