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Former UConn forward Stanley Robinson dead at age 32

Robinson helped lead the Huskies to their third Final Four in 2009.

Rio Grande Valley Vipers v Iowa Energy - Game Two Photo by Brian Ray/NBAE via Getty Images

Former UConn forward Stanley Robinson passed away Wednesday at age 32. Robinson, commonly known as “Sticks” to UConn fans, played for Jim Calhoun and the Huskies from 2006-10.

“Just a really, really sweet kid,” Calhoun told Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant. “The world was harsh for him, because he was such a caring, giving person.”

Robinson was widely regarded as one of the most athletic players in Huskies’ history, and played a crucial role in helping UConn reach its third Final Four in 2009. After arriving to Storrs as Alabama’s Mr. Basketball in 2006, Robinson had flashes of greatness but struggled adjusting to college life, so much that Calhoun suspended him for the fall semester of his junior year in 2008.

“The only one being harmed was Stanley,” Calhoun told Dana O’Neill. “I had a couple of players I asked to leave the program. I didn’t want Stanley to leave. He’s a really good kid with a heart of gold, but he had to get his life square. I saw signs, little things. He’d be late to study hall or late to practice. He wasn’t always going to class. He just wasn’t focused.”

To help him mature, Calhoun helped Robinson land a job at a scrap metal facility in Willimantic. And for five months, Sticks clocked in and worked at the facility, satisfying Calhoun enough to earn back his spot on the team. On Dec. 15, 2008, he made his junior year debut against Stony Brook with seven points and five rebounds. While it took him some time to find consistency, things started to click for Robinson in the NCAA tournament.

Fresh off a 28-point game against Syracuse in the Big East tournament, Robinson dropped 24 points in the first round win over Chattanooga, then followed it up with 12 points and five rebounds against Texas A&M. Robinson then posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double against Purdue and 13 points and four blocks against Missouri to send the Huskies to the Final Four.

In the Final Four loss to Michigan State in Detroit, Robinson scored 15 points and added 13 rebounds, and finished his tournament run averaging 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Without Robinson’s emergence down the stretch as a high-flying dunker and rebounder, it’s hard to picture that 2009 team going as deep as they did.

Robinson finished his career with a 14.5 point and 7.6 rebound per game season as a senior in 2010, finishing with 1,231 career points, which ranked 30th in program history at the time. During that season, he was a part of one of the best UConn highlights in the YouTube era, throwing down an alley-oop from Jerome Dyson in a packed Gampel Pavilion against No. 1 Texas as part of a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in the win.

After UConn, Robinson was selected by the Orlando Magic with 59th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Robinson played three seasons in the D-League before leaving the states to play overseas, most recently playing with Español de Talca in Chile. Robinson also frequently returned to Connecticut to play in Jim Calhoun’s Charity All-Star games at Mohegan Sun and also coached in Calhoun’s basketball camps.

Calhoun told the Hartford Courant that Robinson was found dead in his home by his mother. Robinson is survived by his three kids.

“I don’t think there’s been a three or four week period where I haven’t talked to him since he left UConn,” Calhoun told the Courant. “At St. Joe’s, the kids are always asking, ‘how’s Sticks?’ ... Despite all the tough breaks, he always had a smile on his face.”