Brad Rock: Fairbanks a fortunate soul at UVU

Published: Wednesday, March 4 2009 12:29 a.m. MST

OREM — Her college basketball career is almost over and the final accolades are rolling in for Utah Valley University center Robyn Fairbanks.

It's an impressive list.

But don't expect her to brag about leading the nation in scoring for most of this year — she's currently second by .3 of a point — or about being an honorable mention All-America.

She isn't really even counting on a career in the WNBA.

"I'm not planning on it," she says.

Did she see stardom coming when she moved from her Canadian hometown of Raymond, Alberta, to Orem?

"No. Heavens, no. I just thought I could get some playing time," she says.

Amazing what you can do when you have no expectations.

Still, fate and talent have a way of intervening. She came to UVU four years ago hoping to stick and ended up averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds this year.

Among other honors she won't mention unless you ask: UVU records for total points, scoring average, field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks.

She also dominates the UVU single-game records, including most points (43) and rebounds (20).

She has started every game since laying foot on campus. (As a side note, she holds the Cameron Indoor Stadium record at Duke for rebounds (20) in a game.)

If you're wondering how a player that good could end up at UVU, the answers are several. She came from a town of just 3,200, a few miles from Lethbridge. If you don't know where that is, it's fairly close to Cardston. Still clueless?

Let's just say it's somewhere between Utah and the Northwest Territories.

This much is obvious about her hometown: It's not an NCAA Division I factory. But Fairbanks did get an offer to walk on at BYU, where her father played football and three siblings attended.

She sent out tapes and drew the interest of several Canadian colleges, as well as UVU.

"Coming here," she says, "was the best decision I ever made."

She only played one sport besides basketball in high school — volleyball — but made no attempt to play beyond.

"I don't like to dive," she says.

Which pretty much eliminated swimming, too.

If you didn't know her, it would be hard to pick Fairbanks out of a lineup. Though she's 6-foot-1, that's not unusual these days. She comes into an interview wearing a hat and typical college gear. She doesn't brag about herself or draw attention; doesn't even look bored.

Like most college students, she's still trying to figure out her future. A senior, she says she has no real idea what she'll be doing after college.

"Hopefully, I'll figure something out soon," she says.

On the court, she has everything figured out. Seventy-seven consecutive games scoring in double figures, 15 double-doubles this season. She ranks 11th nationally in rebounds.

Big-name opponents don't seem to faze her. She got 26 points in a win over USC, 29 against Gonzaga and the 20 rebounds plus 17 points against Duke.

"We have played against Robyn a few times over the past few years," said Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves. "I can honestly say she is the best player we have played against — and that is including all the big-time schools we have matched up with."

Schools such as Washington, Marquette, Utah, Virginia and — the biggest of the big — Tennessee.

She has scored over 30 points nine times this year, including a whopping 41 against New Jersey Institute of Technology. In that contest, she made 18-of-20 shots. One of the misses was a 3-pointer, which she promptly put back in.

The bad news for Wolverine fans is that chances to see her play are dwindling. Because UVU is in the final year of its provisional status (prior to becoming a full Division-I member), it can't qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The only remaining games are in the Division I Independent Tournament, which begins Thursday at the McKay Center.

After that, Fairbanks will be free to pursue her hobbies, which include reading and watching TV and movies. Among her favorite books: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."

"I love how they talk," she says.

Which is good to know, because the 1813 novel actually summarizes her feelings for her basketball career. As Jane exclaims to her sister Elizabeth: "I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!"

E-mail: rock@desnews.com

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