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On This Date in Sports March 12, 1987: Sailing Away

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David Robinson scores 50 points for the Navy in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament. The career-high is not enough as the #8 Midshipmen are sunk by #9 Michigan 97-82 at the Charlotte Coliseum. Robinson adds 13 rebounds in his final collegiate game. The 7'1" center had taken Navy to the Elite Eight in 1986 and was considered the top college prospect, despite being tied to a two-year commitment to the Navy after graduating. 

David Robinson was born on August 6, 1965, in Key West, Florida, where his father was in the Navy. After his father retired from military service, the family settled in Woodbridge, Virginia. Robinson had minimal interest from college basketball recruiters but drew the attention of the U.S. Naval academy after recording 1320 on his SAT. After arriving in Annapolis, Robinson had a growth spurt and quickly became the top basketball player in the history of the Midshipman program. 

In 1985, Navy made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 25 years, thanks to David Robinson's breakout season as a sophomore. The Midshipmen reached the Regional Finals in 1986, losing to #1 Duke 71-50 as coach Mike Krzyzewski made the Final Four for the first time.

Navy led by Pete Herrmann had hope for another long tournament run despite drawing the eighth seed and a tough matchup against Michigan. The 50-point game was the 30th game in which David Robinson topped 30 points while at Navy. While Robinson was the best player on the court with his 50 points. Michigan got a big game from Garde Thompson, who hit 9-of-12 shots from downtown. Thompson finished with 30 points, while Gary Grant, his backcourt mate, added 26, and Glen Rice, a forward, had 21 and 12 rebounds. 

Despite a required two-year service in the Navy, David Robinson was the first player chosen in the 1987 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. David Robinson proved to be worth the wait for the Spurs, as he was named Rookie of the Year for the 1989/90 season and quickly became one of the best big men in the NBA. Robinson was the only member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team in Barcelona who played on the last amateur team at the 1988 games in Seoul, taking home a Bronze Medal. Robinson was already an established star, entering the 1993/94 season. That year the Spurs got a boost from the acquisition of Dennis Rodman and became one of the top teams in the Western Conference.