Despite being the 11th ranked player in the 2017 ESPN 100 recruiting class, Mitchell Robinson will not play college basketball this season. Or probably ever for that matter.
A rising college freshman taking a gap year before trying his luck in the NBA draft isn’t uncommon, yet it’s the series of events that led us here that has me befuddled.
Robinson, a 6’11 Center from New Orleans is by far the best player in his state, and some would say the best at his position in the country. He’s made appearances on the national stage for USA basketball in 2016 and 2017, Nike Elite 100 in 2015, Nike Academy in 2016, and a Mcdonalds High School All American this past year. He also starred for the “ProSkills” team in the Nike EYBL league this year. Despite his impressive credentials, Robinson managed to receive offers from only five schools:
Depaul, Umass, Murray State, Texas A&M, and Western Kentucky.
Short of killing somebody, I couldn’t think of a fictional scenario in which as many elite programs pass on a player like Robinson and even that usually wouldn’t be enough to scare away the Calipari’s of the world.
So how did he manage to scare off so many teams? In an age of information and oversaturation, I must confess: I can’t find a single reason. Not an unverified report, not a twitter rumor, not an educated guess.
We are talking about a multi-billion-dollar industry, cloaked in innocence, with teams that stop at nothing to put the best teams on the floor year after year…and there are only five teams that wanted this kid.
For every obstacle in collegiate sports, there are ways around them if you want someone bad enough:
Test scores too low? Get someone to take his SAT for him. (Derrick Rose)
Kid’s demanding money? Charles Barkley will pay him to go to Auburn.
What about legal issues? Pitino could make an exception.
Sadly, the recruiting situation is only half of the story. Robinson would eventually commit to Western Kentucky this past summer, in what was hilariously applauded as a win for the mid-majors. However, after spending less than a week on campus this summer, he packed up his things and went home to open up his recruiting process once again.
Under the NCAA’s transfer restrictions, Robinson will be ineligible for 2017-2018 season should he find a new school since he technically enrolled at WKU before leaving. This leaves him one of two options: Find a new school and play next year, or do something for a year until the NBA draft.
According to several reports and tweets from Robinson himself, LSU and Kansas have emerged as possible suitors for the big man. This is a gamble since they will have to use a scholarship and a roster spot on a guy who more than likely will never play for the program. The upside is they get to develop a lottery pick talent for a year in the hopes he sticks around.
I say all this to come to my main point: Whoever takes this kid is guilty of some sort of violation.