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Jinaki Robinson, the District 14-4A Most Valuable Player last season, of Marshall High School recently signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic career at Jacksonville College. Pictured above at Robinson’s signing ceremony are front row, from left, Deborah Robinson (mother), Jinaki Robinson and Jacob Robinson (father). Back row, Amber Taylor (JC assistant women’s basketball coach) and Brent Sipe (Marshall interim athletic director). Robinson is a point guard who was a four-year varsity starter at Marshall.

Marshall High School girl’s basketball standout Jinaki (Jah-NI-kee) Robinson recently made probably one of the most difficult decisions that she has ever had to make in her young life.

Her final decision — to attend Jacksonville College on a basketball scholarship — came as music to the ears of JC head coach Lynn Nabi, who desperately needed to sign a highly skilled point guard to run the Lady Jaguars’ offense this fall and winter.

Robinson, the current District 14-4A Most Valuable Player and a member of the Longview News-Journal’s All East Texas team, was first faced with deciding between basketball or softball, another sport that she is very adept in.

After giving the final nod to hoops, Robinson then had to choose between attending Kilgore College or JC.

That choice may have been a bit more difficult than one would think for two reasons.

First, by deciding on becoming a Lady Ranger, Robinson could have been forced to learn the Kilgore system by playing behind a more experience point guard.

By choosing to join the Lady Jags, Robinson, who averaged 13.1 points a game, 2.7 rebounds a night and accounted for 6.8 assists per game last season, is expected to step in as a freshman and lead the team right out of the blocks.

Finally, Robinson’s mother, Marshall High School head girl’s basketball coach Deborah Robinson, attended Kilgore College, of all places, on a basketball scholarship back in the 80’s.

A big decision, indeed.

Deborah Robinson said the Kilgore College factor really wasn’t an issue for Jinaki afterall.

“I stressed to Jinaki that it was her life and that it should be her decision, good or bad,” Deborah Robinson explained. “I had a great experience as a student and as a basketball player at Kilgore College, but I advise any of my players that have the opportunity to play at the next level to choose a school that they fell is right for them because they are the ones that are going to have to live there, to go to class there and to play basketball there and to succeed they are going to have to be comfortable with the program they decide on.”

Deborah Robinson went on to say that she believes NJCAA Region XIV, of which  JC  is a member, is the right level of competition for her daughter.

“I have always referred to (Region XIV) as the Division I of junior college basketball,” she said. “I know first hand that the league is probably the most competitive in the country and Jinaki wants to eventually play NCAA Division I basketball and by playing in that league it will be good for her and give her a chance to work on getting her physical strength up and to work on her foot work some, which are some of the things she will need to improve on to be able to step up to the next level.”

Skeptics may believe that it is asking a lot of a freshman to come in and start at point guard in the ultra-competitive Region XIV.

Deborah Robinson says that if anyone can make the transition it’s Jinaki.

“She has been a leader from as far back as the seventh grade when she played on the eighth grade team,” Deborah Robinson said. “Jinaki started four years on varsity her at Marshall and her dad is a former college baseball coach, so she has been around athletics and coaches all her life.

“She’s a leader, not a follower, and she never backs down from a challenge. She’s confident under pressure and I think that that will be a big benefit to her playing at Jacksonville (College). She knows what they are expecting her to do when she gets there and I think she will respond well to that challenge. She’s just not a sit-back-and-wait type of kid.”

Nabi had this to say about his first signee for the 2011-12 season.

“We are excited about getting Jinaki,” he said. “We consider her to be the top (female) basketball player coming out of East Texas this year and we are expecting big things from her.

“She’s a leader and is a good athlete that we think that our fans are going to really enjoy watching her play at Jacksonville College.”

JC finished 13-17 last season.

Jinaki Robinson heads the early list of signees for JC which also include, Kaylin Clayton (Allen), Annastacia Mburu (Nirobi, Kenya), Shelby Petross (Kaufman) and Deizara McCoy (Houston).

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