Diving deeper into the recruitment of Mitchell Robinson, who visits KU this weekend
With temperatures in the 80s and only a handful of Kansas men’s basketball players in town, 7-foot center Mitchell Robinson might not be getting a complete look at Lawrence in August when he visits the KU campus this weekend in search of his next school.
But when it comes to showing recruits around the facilities and teaching them about the illustrious tradition of Kansas basketball, there is no down time or off day and the KU coaches should be able to give Robinson as complete a look as needed to help him make his decision.
In search of a new school to attend after leaving Western Kentucky because of the departure of his godfather from the WKU coaching staff, Robinson’s situation is as interesting as they come.
For starters, it’s rare for a consensus Top 10 prospect and former McDonald’s All-American to still be on the board this late in the recruiting game, but Robinson’s unique circumstances created that reality.
Unfortunately for both Robinson and all of the teams pursuing him, that reality also means it’s possible that he will not be eligible during the 2017-18 season because he was previously enrolled in summer school classes at WKU and spent some time with the program this summer. Reports have indicated that Robinson is exploring the possibility of getting some kind of waiver from the NCAA to make him immediately eligible. And if KU is the pick there’s no doubt that the KU coaches and the Kansas athletic department as a whole would do whatever it could to help make that happen. Remember, the school spent thousands of dollars to help get Cheick Diallo cleared for competition, though that was a different situation altogether and did not involve Diallo having enrolled with a different college program prior to coming to Kansas.
Still, KU has proven it will go above and beyond what most are willing to do to help players with their eligibility issues and there’s no doubt that they would make similar efforts to help Robinson if he were to pick the Jayhawks.
A quick search of the rules regarding a transfer like Robinson’s revealed that the NCAA rule book states that a student-athlete’s eligibility clock begins when that athlete enrolls “as a full-time student at any college.” Furthermore, full-time is defined as being enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours, which Robinson was not at WKU.
Later in those same eligibility rules, however, is a section about a transfer trigger clause, which may be of greater importance to Robinson’s situation.
It states that a transfer student is a student who transfers from a collegiate institution after having triggered any of the conditions:
• Enrolled full-time during any term and attended class or in Division I if you are enrolled full time and are on campus on the opening day of classes. — This does not apply to Robinson.
• Reported for a regular squad practice. — Because the season has not started, it would seem this does not apply either.
• Practiced or competed while enrolled less than full-time. — This one is unclear, as the NCAA now allows a few practices in the summer and reports have indicated that Robinson did, in fact, practice with the team in some capacity this summer.
• Received institutional financial aid while attending summer school. — And this one seems likely, given that Robinson was on campus, enrolled and living in a WKU dorm.
Clearly, there’s a lot of uncertainty here and a big part of this whole process figures to be whether KU wants to spend time trying to help Robinson make his case should he decide he wants to come to Kansas.
One thing that’s important to point out about that: It is up to the university to file a waiver. An athlete cannot request one for himself. But it’s the conference or the NCAA that administers the waiver from that point.
According to Bill Embody, of 247 Sports site Tiger Blitz, who confirmed a report by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the powers that be at LSU deemed it not worth their time and are no longer recruiting Robinson.
Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Embody writes that Robinson “has a slim chance of playing college basketball next season, (which was) part of the reason LSU stopped recruiting the New Orleans native.”
So just who is Mitchell Robinson? Other than one of the hottest names on the minds of KU fans right now, he’s also a legitimate pro prospect with great size, good athleticism and the ability to make a difference for whichever program signs him.
That’s if he plays college ball at all. One of the big concerns out there seems to be that if he is forced to sit out the 2017-18 season after transferring that he might just jump to the NBA Draft after that and forego his college eligibility altogether.
While there’s no doubt that Kansas will vet that situation thoroughly, it will remain a risk down the road no matter what is said or agreed to today.
Measured at 7 feet tall without shoes and 7-1 with shoes by USA Basketball, the 233-pound, athletic big man has a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan and a 9-foot-3-inch standing reach.
According to DraftExpress.com, those numbers put Robinson in some rare company, with only Class of 2018 big man Bol Bol (7-3 in shoes, 7-8 wingspan, 220 pounds) standing in his class.
“He's continued to grow into his late teens, adding 18 pounds to his frame since the USA Basketball U18 Training Camp last June,” wrote DraftExpress. “(Robinson) has a unique combination of reach, length and frame that is very similar to that of a young Serge Ibaka from a physical standpoint.”
Robinson committed to Texas A&M in October of 2015 — almost two full years ago now — and then backed out of that commitment in April of 2016 after A&M assistant Rick Stansbury left to take the job at Western Kentucky.
That opened the door for Robinson to join his godfather, former North Carolina guard Shammond Williams at WKU, where Williams joined Stansbury as an assistant coach prior to the 2016-17 season.
The relationship between his former A&M recruiter and his godfather quickly led to Robinson committing to Western Kentucky in June of 2016, and, on Nov. 9 of last year, he signed his national letter of intent to join the Hilltoppers.
He remained committed to WKU until Williams decided to leave the school in July and was given his official release on Aug. 1.
That brings us to today and the impending arrival of Robinson on KU’s campus on Saturday for an unofficial weekend visit.
Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess, but the Jayhawks appear to be in good shape to land Robinson if they decide they want him and if he likes what he sees this weekend.