This time a year ago, Mitchell Robinson wasn't getting paid millions of dollars to play basketball.
Heck, Robinson wasn't playing basketball period.
Well, unless you count the numerous pickup games and days and nights he spent in a gym getting him ready for where he is now.
His questionable decision to forego college and sit out a year to just focus on the NBA draft seems like a distant memory now.
Robinson's time has come.
He's a starter for the Knicks now, playing in New York City where the lights are much brighter and the media microphones are more plentiful than what he encountered in Chalmette where he played his senior year of high school basketball just two seasons ago.
But the Knicks' 7-foot rookie center, two years removed from being named The New Orleans Advocate's Player of the Year, is adjusting to the bright lights of the Big Apple just fine.
"I'm loving it," Robinson said. "You can do something every day and you can get in the gym 24 hours."
Robinson celebrated homecoming on Friday night as the Knicks made the trip to New Orleans to play the Pelicans.
"It feels great to play against my home team," Robinson said during the Friday morning shoot around.
Prior to tip-off, Robinson chatted and posed for pictures with the Chalmette High basketball team that made the short trip from St. Bernard Parish to the Smoothie King Center.
Robinson served as the Knicks' team captain, exchanging a handshake and a hug at midcourt with Anthony Davis prior to tipoff. AD and Robinson worked out together before in the past.
Robinson is hoping to someday be what Davis is: a household name in the NBA.
His coach and teammates like what they have seen so far from Robinson. His stellar play in summer league (13.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.0 blocks) led the Knicks to signing him to a multi-year deal. The deal was reportedly for three years at $4.8 million.
"I knew (the NBA) was going to be faster and way tougher," Robinson said. "It's so fast now. You have to get that ball and go. That was the biggest adjustment I had to make."
Once the season started, it took Robinson just six games to crack the starting lineup. He's been in it since.
"I really like the kid a lot," Knicks coach David Fizdale said. "He works hard and really tries to do everything you ask him to do. He's been a real pleasant surprise and he's just going to keep getting better and better."
Allonzo Trier, one of three rookies to start for the Knicks Friday night, calls Robinson a "great locker room" guy.
"He definitely brings a positive energy," Trier said.
Robinson is averaging 5.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Knicks. On a night when he was plagued with foul trouble, he scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds Friday in a game the Pelicans rallied and won 129-124.
Robinson's best game came just six days ago when he blocked nine shots in a loss to the Orlando Magic. He set the Knicks' rookie record for blocks and was just one shy of the team record held by Dikembe Mutombo and Joe Meriweather.
"That was a defensive night for me," Robinson said. "I didn't score much. But whatever I need to do to help my team, I do it. Orlando came out hot and I had to slow them down a little bit."
His teammates weren't surprised.
"Guys don't really know who he is or what he can do yet, so they go in there challenging him not realizing he can go get those," Trier said. "People are going to quickly realize that you can't just go lay the ball up over the top of him because he's going to go get it."
One of the nine blocks in particular impressed Fizdale.
Robinson was on the ground after a fall and sprinted to the opposite corner to block a shot.
"The way he does it is just so dynamic," Fizdale said. "It's not many times you see 7 footers covering that kind of ground. He's going to be a real anchor for us in the future defensively."
But on Friday night, there wasn't enough defense. The Pelicans rallied from a 19-point deficit to prevail, ruining Robinson's return home.
Despite the disappointment, he was glad to be back home playing in front of 13 family members and the people from Chalmette scattered throughout the arena.
"It felt great," Robinson said. "I had a lot of people to come and support me, so it felt good."