Diving deeper into the recruitment of Mitchell Robinson, who visits KU this weekend

Big East's Mitchell Robinson dunks against Big West's during the second half of the McDonald's All- American boys high school basketball game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Big West won 109-107. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Big East's Mitchell Robinson dunks against Big West's during the second half of the McDonald's All- American boys high school basketball game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Big West won 109-107. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) by Matt Tait

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.

Big East's Mitchell Robinson (22) blocks the shot of Big West's Brandon L. McCoy (44) as Jaren Jackson Jr., left, and Brian "Tugs" Bowen II, watch during the second half of the McDonald's All-American boys basketball game Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Chicago. The West team won 109-107. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Big East's Mitchell Robinson (22) blocks the shot of Big West's Brandon L. McCoy (44) as Jaren Jackson Jr., left, and Brian "Tugs" Bowen II, watch during the second half of the McDonald's All-American boys basketball game Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Chicago. The West team won 109-107. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) by Matt Tait

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.

Comments

Craig Carson

Id love for KU to get this kid. Even if he cant play this year he'd be a huge addition for next year since there is a chance Azibuike could leave for the NBA. Now if Robinson commits AND Azibuike stays, combine them with Dedric Lawson..now that would be a dynamic frontcourt. But alas, it doesnt look like even if he does come to KU that he will be able to help the team this season with their lack of front court depth and size =-[

2 months, 1 week ago

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Brett McCabe

Crazy question: Assuming Robinson never plays at KU, would you offer a spot for the following reasons?

1. Practice. Would having him as part of the team help the team develop?

2. Future Transfers: Send a message to kids out there that KU puts the kids first?

3. Reputation: If Robinson is a lottery pick, he'd still be listed as a KU player, is there a value to this?

These are just theoretical questions. I know that this program doesn't need to sell out for any single kid but if there are enough possible returns to the program to add him, regardless?

Keep in mind, it's our last available scholarship.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Matt Tait

All 3 of your reasons are valid enough to do it, especially because that scholarship is just sitting there and not being used.

Beyond that, it looks good, long term, on Self's recruiting resume - another Top 10 kid, another McDonald's All-American.

Worst case, he bolts but proves valuable in the 3 areas you mentioned and then, a year from now, you've got the scholarship back anyway, which is what would happen if they save it and don't use it on anyone.

It's up in the air whether he'll find a way to be eligible this season or not, but if he wants to come to KU I can't imagine they'd pass on taking him.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Karen Mansfield-Stewart

I agree. There's no downside for KU unless we're unsure of his intentions for the 2018-2019 season and we hold a scholly open waiting for his decision &/or he decides to go pro late.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Mike Greer

I would assume that his NBA situation would be the same as any other underclassman and he would have to either commit or not by the same time as Svi did this year. That really didn't affect the ability to use the scholarship.

2 months ago

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Steve Corder

According to this article, 2 out of 4 eligibility criteria tells me he is sitting out the year. Given the snail pace of the NCAA on eligibility rulings, who wants the waiting and distraction heading into the season? I read of no ther school showing interest.

My only exception in passing him up would be Self's assessment as to wether the young man would give Self one year at KU.....either this one or next. Otherwise, encourage Mr. Robinson to return to WKU.

2 months, 1 week ago

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John Fitzgerald

I think it's fair to say anything benefiting KU will not be the NCAA's priority. As we saw with the Diallo situation they kept it on the back burner and made KU fund all of the things that were supposed to be their job. And as long as that Luck turd is leading the NCAA there's no chance he'll do anything for any player that benefits KU.

Also, if he can't play this year I wouldn't think he'd play college at all. He'll either commit somewhere and simply practice with the team this year and enter the draft next year or play for an AAU or overseas league and then enter the draft next year. Either way, in my opinion at least, it doesn't seem a player of his caliber would be interested in hanging around college for more than a year.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Dillon Davis

Win win for us. We have an open scholarship. He either comes and helps us on the court this year. He comes, but isn't eligible, so he helps us in practice just like Charlie Moore and the Lawson bros are doing. Then he may or may not play for us in 2018. Either way, he helps us this year and we have the scholarship to give. And we'll see if we can get him eligible and if that happens, look out. Stacked frontcourt and backcourt.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Kevin Boone

Totally agree. We have the open scholarship, at least get something positive out of it!

2 months, 1 week ago

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Waylon Cook

Come. On. Down.

Self isn't an idiot.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Brad Avery

K.U. can get by this season without him. Let him sit out a year, become "Hudyized" for a year and be ready for 2018-2019.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

Somehow I don't think Coach Self has any thought of getting by any season. Somewhat tangential, our practice squad could get 2nd place in the Big 12 if allowed.

One reason to move slowly though is the possible reclassification of Bagley.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Jonathan Allison

This is my first reaction as well.

We are preparing to play right now with a lack of depth in the front court (again). We have this scholarship available. The ideal scenario is to add someone who can help us this year. Right now, the only player who seems to meet that criteria is Bagley Jr.

If we can't do that, then there is zero downside to adding Robinson, even if he never plays in a game at KU.

2 months ago

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Humpy Helsel

Intriguing player, while failing to meet the sniff test. Let's move on.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

During the summer, I think 6 hours is considered FT.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Jay Hawk

I'm not sure it's completely accurate to simply say "come on down" and the worst case scenario is we have a great practice player for a year and a potential Jayhawk drafted highly.

You think he will want to actually go to class? Care about grades? Care about team rules? Care about chemistry? Or even teammates? What if he's a poor influence on our other "transfer" kids sitting out the year who we are counting on suiting up next year? Yep, Self could kick him off the team if he becomes a distraction but do we want a distraction on a national championship contender just for the likely upside found above?

While it would be freaking awesome to get a year of playing time out of this kid, I'm not sure I see it happening. But, I'm confident Coach will figure it out and I hope he makes a contribution on the court to our team.

RCJH

2 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

All opinions are noteworthy. I will simply say that Coach Self and his staff will make the best decision for the program and for Mitchell as they almost always do. Obviously, there sometimes are surprises (Josh Selby is one of the first to come to my mind). However, the program couldn't be in better hands, and there will be no second guessing on my part.

2 months, 1 week ago

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Steve Zimmerman

Robinson >> Ayton. Hopefully NCAA won't give us another trouble if we do land this kid.
It'll be another fantastic run this season!!

2 months, 1 week ago

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