Why aren’t you starting?

Jaxson Robinson, No. 18-ranked BYU’s 6-foot-7 scoring machine, gets that question almost everywhere he goes — from fans, family members, friends, former teammates and even opposing players.

“Not really worried about that. That’s not my main focus. My main focus is on the team, winning games, making the NCAA Tournament, hopefully winning a championship.” — BYU senior Jaxson Robinson on his sixth-man role

So when it comes from a reporter, as it did Thursday morning after the fourth-year senior (more on that in a bit) scored a career-high 28 points and made a career-high eight 3-pointers in the 90-74 win over Denver Wednesday night, Robinson is at the ready with an answer.

“Not really worried about that,” Robinson said. “That’s not my main focus. My main focus is on the team, winning games, making the NCAA Tournament, hopefully winning a championship.”

Robinson calls it “outside noise,” and although he politely offers a detailed explanation of how coming off the bench is working well for him and the 9-1 Cougars (No. 3 in the most recent NET rankings), he would much rather talk about what it took in the offseason to get him and the team where it is now.

Robinson and the surprising Cougars will return to the Marriott Center Saturday night for a nonconference clash with the Georgia State Panthers (4-5) of the Sun Belt Conference. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. MST and the game will be streamed by ESPN+.

There was one outside voice that caught his attention late Wednesday night, after he scored the fifth-most points by a player off the bench in BYU basketball history.

“The best sixth man in college basketball resides in Provo,” Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports wrote on X, the social media website formerly known as Twitter. “His name is Jaxon (sic) Robinson.”

That was cool to see, Robinson acknowledged, even if the host of the “College Hoops Today” podcast misspelled his name — which happens often.

“I pay a lot of attention to what Jon tweets, so that was a pretty big moment for me, as a fan,” Robinson said. “But I am not getting too caught up in that and am just making sure I am out there performing. At the end of the day, you still gotta go out there and play basketball. Staying focused on what we have up ahead is really the most important thing for me.”

Other national commentators are also taking notice.

“BYU’s Jaxson Robinson looks like one of the best shooters in college basketball through 10 games,” tweeted Jonathan Givony, an NBA draft analyst at ESPN. “… The 6-foot-7 lengthy wing brings intriguing shot-making diversity.”

The question about Robinson coming off the bench in 2023-24 gets asked a lot because Robinson appeared in 33 games for BYU last year, and started in 30, after transferring in from Arkansas, where he played sparingly. He averaged 8.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 2022-23 for a BYU team that went 19-15 and failed to make postseason play.

Coach Mark Pope said Robinson has never voiced any displeasure over his newfound role, has the right perspective to handle not starting, and his ego is properly in check. And why change something that is working so well?

Robinson is averaging 18.0 points per game, shooting 49.3% from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range. Only starters Spencer Johnson (25.5), Trevin Knell (25.2) and Dallin Hall (24.6) are averaging more minutes than Robinson (23.8).

“I think it all goes back to a phrase that I really love, and that is just control what you can control. It doesn’t really matter if I am coming off the bench, or starting, or not,” he said. “I still have that same killer mindset, making sure that when I come into the game I am helping my team do whatever I need to do to secure wins.

“I mean, I don’t really care too much about starting as long as I am helping my team.”

After Robinson’s career night against the Pioneers, which was the third time in the past five games in which he’s scored 30 or more points, teammate Noah Waterman said nobody should be surprised by the way the Ada, Oklahoma, native has started the season.

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“Jaxs is a dangerous man,” said Waterman, who is also having a breakout season. “Dude is one of the best shooters in the country. Didn’t surprise me. He does it all the time in practice.”

After the game, Robinson said it is a matter of trusting the work that he put in over the summer. He hit the gym twice or three times a day to work on his shot and other skills with Melvin Goins, a BYU graduate assistant coach who played college ball at Tennessee and professionally overseas in Greece and Nigeria and in Mexico and Canada.

Although he was listed as a sophomore on BYU’s roster last year, Robinson is listed as a senior now. This is his fourth year of college hoops, having played his freshman season at Texas A&M and his second season at Arkansas. Technically, he has one season of eligibility remaining because the 2020-21 season doesn’t count, due to the pandemic.

However, he’s not sure whether he will return, which is why he wants to be referred to as a senior.

Cougars on the air

Georgia State (4-5)
at No. 18 BYU (9-1)
Saturday, 7 p.m. MST
Marriott Center
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM

“I honestly couldn’t tell you about next year,” he said. “I can’t tell you what the future holds. I am just focused on this season right now and not too focused on the future. Like I said, I am trying to make the NCAA Tournament this year, so that’s my main focus and just going from there.”

Whatever the case, he said he has “no regrets” about leaving the SEC for BYU, which begins Big 12 play next month.

“I have great teammates, great coaches that have my back whether the shot is falling or not,” Robinson said. “I am blessed to have these guys as teammates and coaches. I mean, all I can do is thank them, to be honest. Shots were falling tonight. There will be nights when they don’t fall. But they have confidence in me to shoot them.”

Whether he is coming off the bench, or starting.

BYU guard Jaxson Robinson (2) shoots during the game against the Evansville Aces at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.
BYU guard Jaxson Robinson shoots during a game against the Evansville Aces at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. The Arkansas transfer is making noise around the country as a result of his stellar play as BYU’s sixth man. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News