Highlights of Female Athletics: Jillian Robbins

Sports editor Jaralynn Tammi Morellano says Jillian Robbins is an inspiring figure to all.

One of the most prestigious athletes in The University of Tulsa’s women’s basketball history, Jillian Robbins, will be the first athletic highlight of the Collegian’s Female Athletic Career series for Women’s History Month.

Robbins was a redshirt freshman from Klein High School who was ranked the 34th best center in the national class of 2002 and in the top-200 players in the nation, according to the AllStar Girls Report. She earned a bachelor of arts in psychology with a minor in marketing communications and a certificate in African American studies in December 2006.

Robbins originally grew up in Tulsa, and in her interview with the Tulsa World in Jan. 2006, she told them it was her dream to play basketball for the University of Tulsa since she was little.
“I used to go to TU games at the Convention Center all the time,” Robbins said. “I’m a Tulsa girl at heart. When I started to play AAU ball I told my dad if Tulsa gives me one (scholarship), that’s it. That’s where I’m going.”

Her career was anything but smooth. The star sustained injuries to her left knee towards the end of her junior year campaign and a reinjury at the beginning of her senior year. After a series of knee surgeries, Robbins would commit a stellar performance where the Tulsa World described her as “making up for lost time.”

Robbins poses as an inspiration to all women, even outside of basketball. During her undergraduate career, she was a mother to her son, Jordan, and worked two jobs to support her family and her dreams.

In an interview with Dick Patrick, a former Collegian sports writer, Robbins said that these efforts would bring her a huge payoff, and her family made it all possible. “I have a great support system,” Robbins said. “I was determined to make this work.”

During her TU basketball career, Robbins was a starter for all four seasons when the school was in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Robbins made huge waves in her first year, and she was named to the all-WAC first team and to the all-conference defensive team. To add even more to the pot, she was also WAC Newcomer of the Year and named to the all-WAC Freshman Team. In her first season, she started in 19 of 29 games while averaging 13.6 (395) points, 8.9 (257) rebounds, 2.8 (82) steals, and 1.6 (46) blocked shots per game. This performance helped TU earn an overall record of 21-12 and earned Robbins the title of the team’s Offensive Player of the Year.

In her sophomore year, Robbins started in all 30 games and averaged 18.3 (550) points, 9.9 (298) rebounds, 2.5 steals per game (74) and 2.5 (75) blocked shots per game. Robbins was named WAC Player of the Week five times. She was second in second in season leaders for points and named TU’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

TU’s best record during her career was achieved in her junior year when the Golden Hurricane went 28-6. Robbins was a 2006 Associated Press and Kodak/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) honorable mention. She was named to the Kodak/WBCA All-Region VI team and was an All-American finalist by the same publication.

As for conference honors, Robbins was selected as the 2006 Conference USA (C-USA) Female Athlete of the Year, C-USA Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and all-conference first team honors. She was named C-USA Player of the Week six times and named to the Wells Fargo New Year’s Classic All-Tournament team.

After the regular season, she was named C-USA Tournament MVP and selected as the ESPN Player of the Game against Tulane and Rice. These performances led her to be named TU’s Defensive Player of the Year.

She completed the season ranked nationally in rebounding (3rd), steals (18th), blocked shots (20th), field goal percentage (23rd) and scoring (37th). She was the third person in C-USA history to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding. In the same season, she also set C-USA single season records in rebounding at TU’s game against Southern Miss on Feb. 10, 2006.
In her final season, Robbins averaged 19.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest and recorded the school’s first ever triple-double with 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 steals vs. Memphis on Jan. 7, 2007. Her pre-season awards include C-USA Preseason Player of the Year, Street & Smith’s Preseason High Honorable Mention, John R. Wooden Award list and the Preseason Naismith Trophy list.

During the season, she was selected as a 2007 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Nominee, named to the CSTV Columnists’ Dream Team and selected to the UTSA Thanksgiving Class All-Tournament Team. She was named C-USA Player of the Week twice and was the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. By the end of her final season, she was named TU’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year and named to the Ultimate Team.

Robbins completed her career as the highest scoring player (2,108) in TU’s women’s basketball program history. In addition to this, she was the fastest player in TU history to reach 1,000 points and the only one to get 1,000 rebounds and 2,000 points.

Her athletic career at TU was honored at the end of her senior season when her jersey (#14) was retired. To further honor Robbins, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. We can all agree that Robbins has a truly inspiring story of achieving dreams despite all the odds, and TU is lucky to have housed an incredible woman.