Michigan's Robinson complete move from Division III to Ann Arbor

— -- Hollywood has made a fortune on the plucky sports story -- "Rudy", "Rocky", "Little Giants", "Caddyshack", "The Bad News Bears", "The Karate Kid", "Seabiscuit", "Angels in the Outfield" ... you get the picture.

The movie always ends when the scrapper finally reaches the dream and enjoys that one shining moment.

What if the underdog didn't need a miracle so much as just a chance? What if once he got the chance, he just kept going, achieving one shining moment after another?

Then you'd have the reality show that is Duncan Robinson's life. Currently the second-leading scorer at Michigan, he was formerly the leading scorer at Williams College, a tiny Division III school in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Making the jump from the non-scholarship Division III to Division I isn't entirely out of the ordinary. This season alone, two other players have made the leap -- George Washington's Matt Hart began his career at Hamilton College and Vermont's Dylan Sinnickson started at Middlebury -- but no one has skied so high as Robinson or done so well.

"I just told him, 'You can play here. You just gotta believe. We believe in you,'" Michigan coach John Beilein said. "And little by little, he's embraced it all."

Embraced and run with it, to be more accurate. Along with averaging 12.5 points per game, Robinson ranks fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting, connecting at a 61 percent clip.

How do dreams come true? Just like in the movies. Hard work combined with good timing, a little luck and a fairy godfather. That would be Beilein. Just replace the wand with a whistle and the wings with a whiteboard.

There aren't many high-major coaches who would look at a Division III kid, no matter how good he is, and not only offer him a roster spot but also fork over a coveted scholarship.

But Beilein's roots are in the non-scholarship level, first at Nazareth College (New York) and later at LeMoyne. He knows the hidden gems who toil there, undiscovered or passed over.

"I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else, but I look through a different lens," Beilein said. "You know, how many strength coaches do these kids have? Zero. You get them in the right environment, give them the right opportunity, you never know. There are all kinds of kids like that. Nobody thought Steph Curry could play Division I. It's an impossible science to predict, at 16, what a kid is going to be like at 21, but that's the business we're in."

To say that Robinson is a late bloomer implies there was a bud early on. As a freshman at Governor's Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts, he was a scrawny, 5-foot-6 kid who understandably couldn't get off the bench. Slowly he started to grow, a few inches or so every year, but that only made him awkward, all elbows and ankles like a newborn foal. Finally midway through his junior season, biology and basketball met in the middle, an 11-inch growth spurt combined with a kid who was always a hard worker to create a pretty good player.

He spent the entire summer working on his game, holing up in the gym like he always did to perfect his jumper, plus signing on with the Middlesex Magic AAU team. Still no one -- literally no one -- was interested in offering Robinson a chance to play college ball, so he enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy for a prep year.

By the end of his one year there, Robinson was named tournament MVP after scoring 24 points and adding 10 rebounds to help Phillips Exeter to its first Class A title and a 28-1 record.

Williams coach Mike Maker saw Robinson in the summer -- the Magic coach, Michael Crotty Jr., is a Williams alum -- and invited him to try out. Maker is a Beilein disciple. He learned under Beilein for two years as an assistant at West Virginia and runs the same offense, one that requires shooters.

Williams is something of a Division III power. The Ephs (rhymes with chiefs, derived from the name of school founder, Ephraim Williams) have won 28 national titles in various sports, and the men's basketball program has seven Final Fours on its résumé.

So when Maker offered, Robinson was elated.

"I was so ready to play there for four years, to win as many games as we could, and hopefully get a national championship," Robinson said. "The program that he had, the history, I was thrilled to have a chance to play there."

Williams, like all Division III non-scholarship schools, falls at the bottom of the college athletics food chain. Chandler Gymnasium has a max capacity of 1,600, and according to the latest Department of Education Equity in Athletics Data, the 16 head coaches there make a combined $1.3 million ... or $2 million less than what Beilein makes in a year.

Maker was simply successful. In 2014, Robinson's freshman year, the Ephs went to the Final Four for the third time in Maker's six seasons there, finishing as a national runner-up for the second time.

By June, he was gone, hired by Marist.

On the way out the door, though, Maker suggested that Robinson ought to stretch his wings, dream bigger than the confines of Williams.

Robinson asked for his release and sent out a few feelers. He didn't expect to get much back.

"And then all of a sudden, all these coaches are calling, offering us plane flights," said Robinson's mother, Elisabeth. "It was incredible."

Most, though, were looking at Robinson as a recruited walk-on, offering little in the way of a guarantee for playing time. To Robinson and his family, that trade didn't make much sense. After all those years on the high school bench, waiting for his basketball stars to align, he wasn't interested in merely putting on a jersey to sit on the bench in another, albeit bigger, gym. He wanted to play.

"The division," Elisabeth said, "didn't matter."

At first, Beilein was making the same pledge: a walk-on spot. Because he knew Maker and valued not just his talent evaluation but also his opinions on players that suited the Michigan system, Beilein was curious. In July of 2014, he called Robinson and told him to send over some film.

"I watched it and said to my assistants, 'OK, call me crazy but look at this kid. I think he can play,'" Beilein said. "My assistants all agreed."

On Aug. 4, 2014, he sent Robinson a text, telling him he'd be calling in about 20 minutes. Robinson was home at the time, hanging out with a group of friends and family. They all gathered around in the background when Beilein called.

As Robinson remembers it, Beilein left him hanging for a little bit, telling him that he loved the way he played, that he would fit Michigan well and that the coach indeed was interested before adding the kicker: Beilein was offering a scholarship.

"When I hung up the phone and told everyone it was a scholarship, the room erupted," Robinson said.

Three weeks later, Robinson was in Ann Arbor. If his new teammates were skeptical, wondering what a Division III kid could possibly bring to the table, they didn't show it. They welcomed him to the team, conversing in the universal language of pickup ball to get to know one another.

Robinson remembers a few butterflies, wondering if this was all really happening, questioning whether he was in over his head. In that first casual game, he scored a few points, played the way he usually does and exhaled.

"I remember thinking, 'Wow, I'm really here,'" he said.

Under NCAA rules, he had to sit out as a transfer, but Robinson used that time to work on his body as much as his game. Still skinny, he was just 185 pounds and 6-foot-8 when he arrived at Michigan. Today, he's 210 pounds.

In the Hollywood version of this story, Robinson would score a double-double in his first official game as a Wolverine. In reality, he did not.

Instead, he took one shot against Northern Michigan and missed, his boxscore showing little but four rebounds for his 15-minute effort.

That's when Beilein gave him another pep talk, reminding him of the hard work he'd put in dating all the way back to high school and through his year off, the hours he toiled in the gym to make his body ready for the Division I level.

The next game, against Elon, he came off the bench to score 19 points in 18 minutes with a most beautiful stat line -- 6-for-6 from the floor, including 5-for-5 beyond the arc, plus 2-for-2 at the free throw line.

Robinson has now scored in double figures in seven straight games, and with Spike Albrecht's career officially over, Robinson's shooting ability will be all the more important for the Wolverines going forward.

After this season, he has two more years of eligibility left, more time to grow in size and confidence, and more time to dream big.

"Every college player, I think their dream and goal is to play professionally," Robinson said. "I, 100 percent, have those aspirations."

And why not?

His life already has been better than any filmmaker could conjure.