NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/YWZZ) — When Division II player of the year Paige Robinson announced her transfer to Illinois State last spring, she knew she had something to prove.

“I had a lot of doubters going from Division II to Division I,” Robinson said. “I wanted to come in and prove myself, do what I had to do to impact the team in a positive manner. It worked out well, I’d say.”

All Robinson did after an All-American career at Drury University was help an NCAA Tournament tea, get better at ISU. She led the Redbirds to their first Missouri Valley Conference regular season title in 13 years and took the league’s player of the year honors.

Of course, she was also the MVC Newcomer of the Year. Robinson exceeded her own expectations.

“It was way better than I thought. I had high expectations, obviously,” Robinson said. “I wanted to win the conference and do big things. It has played out better than I expected. I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

The Redbirds won the MVC Tournament last year and went to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost a first round game to Iowa. Robinson leads this ISU team into a WNIT postseason game at Missouri Thursday night.

This year went better than imagined, Robinson said. And she’s not alone in her opinion.

“The way she socially fit into the team as a leader and the way she brings the best out of her teammates has been one of the most remarkable things about Paige,” said senior Mary Crompton. “She’s lifted this program to an extremely high level and has challenged us to meet her where she is.”

Robinson says she wants to pursue a professional basketball career when her college career ends. And that college career could end any day now.

But what a final year of college it’s been for the former Okaw Valley High School star who came the ISU basketball camps when she was a young player.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better 12 months,” Robinson admitted. “This year has been amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend my last year.”