Report: Mitchell Robinson leaning toward skipping 2017-18 season altogether


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

What once looked like a promising option for a Kansas basketball program thin on big men now looks much less likely.

Jon Rothstein, of FanRag Sports, reported earlier this week that “multiple sources” had told him that 7-foot center Mitchell Robinson — the McDonald’s All-American who was released from his commitment to Western Kentucky and visited LSU, Kansas and New Orleans during recent weeks — was considering skipping the 2017-18 season altogether in order to prepare for the 2018 NBA Draft.

No Kansas. No New Orleans. No return to Western Kentucky. No basketball.

Sure, Robinson, if he does go this route, will spend the next 10 months working out and preparing for the draft, but is that really his best path to NBA success?

I get that being ineligible due to transfer rules, and therefore being unable to play in a game for whichever school he chose, would keep him from playing meaningful basketball. But isn’t the idea of learning from Bill Self or any other legitimate college basketball coach worth something to a young man in Robinson’s position? Malik Newman sure seemed to think so.

That’s not to say that Newman would have been a likely lottery pick had he sat out last year and then jumped into the 2017 NBA Draft before ever playing a minute at KU. He’s not 7 feet tall or that might have been the case. Either way, Newman still would have been drafted. But instead, he chose to come to Kansas to play for Kansas and now his name is all over the place, from coast to coast, as a part of potentially one of the best college backcourts in America.

It sure seems, at least to me, that going anywhere — Kansas, UNO, back to WKU, wherever — and getting the kind of structure one gets from regular practices, pick-up games, travel, film study and help in the weight room and with nutrition, would be a better move for Robinson than sitting out altogether.

Doing the opposite would not only keep Robinson from getting those benefits, but also would be another blow to the current NBA age limit rule, which states that players are not eligible to join the league until they turn 19.

While that rule gained support early on because it helped prevent players who were not ready for pro ball from jumping to the NBA right out of high school, situations like Robinson’s likely were not what they had in mind.

And I can’t imagine current NBA coaches or general managers like it much either.

Lottery picks are worth their weight in gold in the NBA, and, although Robinson would be sitting out hoping to preserve his status as a potential lottery selection — which he was on Jonathan Givony's most recent 2018 NBA mock draft — it’s hard to envision an NBA franchise picking a guy that high who had not played competitive basketball in more than a year.

Forget about the one-and-done trend’s impact on the college game for a second and think about it from the NBA perspective. Having a potential franchise player playing in college — or even overseas — for a full year before you draft him has to be much more appealing than picking a young man who has just been in the gym working out.

That’s not to say Robinson could not get better or position himself to be an attractive option for NBA franchises by getting after it for the next 10 months. In fact, Rothstein’s report mentions that Robinson’s camp is hoping he follows the path taken by Sudanese big man Thon Maker, who became the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft after doing a year of post-graduate prep school in 2015 while waiting to fulfill the NBA’s age requirement.

But these two situations are not exactly the same and I can’t imagine this is the direction any of the other parties involved — college basketball, the NBA or NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who recently said the age 19 rule was “not working” — want to see the game go.

Time will tell what happens to Robinson. But, as of today, it’s looking less and less likely that college basketball will be a part of his story.


Brett McCabe 9 months ago

Look to USA Hockey for your model. Team USA U18's are picked, play in a league and then he either go pro or head to college.

Form a 5-Star team, base it in Vegas, take the top 10 players coming out, pay 'em $200,000 each, tour the team around the world, play Euro league teams, Australian teams, All-Star teams, etc., and let them get drafted. Make Larry Brown the coach to start and then go from there.

This charade really needs to stop.

Todd Hudnall 9 months ago

Thanks for the update Matt. It seems to me that Mitchell is listening to the wrong people. How can sitting out a year be nearly as helpful to his future as playing a year of college basketball, even if it's a year simply working out with the team and playing on the practice squad. Going against Dok day after day would certainly make him a better player.

Steve Jacob 9 months ago

Go overseas and make a little money and get drafted. Worked for Terrence Ferguson.

Andy Godwin 9 months ago

At least he won't have to pretend to take classes for a semester. It is past time to let those young men who are able go to the NBA (or their minor league), make the jump directly from high school and not use the one college season as the NBA's minor league. I would much prefer a student/athlete who wants the "college experience", than a player only bidding their semester plus at a university until the NBA draft. It might dilute the talent at the college level a bit (primarily at the top basketball programs), but the college game will still be very good and entertaining and watched by a heck of a lot more fans than a D or G league game. Time for the NBA to step up and take finicial responsibilities for supporting the development of these ultra talented young players whose primary aspirations are to be paid to play and quite exploiting college program. College basketball will survive with athletes who also appreciate a college education.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 9 months ago

I was hopeful that we'd land Mitchell. Since classes started this week he'd have to commit ASAP to get him enrolled and situated so he doesn't fall behind in his classes.

I'm certainly not him, but I would prefer being a part of a powerhouse college team for a year (10 months) if I was at least a mediocre student or better. You're getting free room & board, coaching, competitive workouts & practices, and national exposure. Plus, it's a once in a lifetime experience that can't be duplicated. Take a few classes to help you learn how to manage your NBA windfall!

John Fitzgerald 9 months ago

I'm sorry but this makes zero sense. He has an opportunity to get a FREE year of college education, with FREE top of the line training, working with GREAT basketball players and being coached by one of College Basketball's greats, BILL "FREAKIN" SELF! All this tells me is he is lazy and doesn't care about education. And honestly, in my selfishness, if he can't play this year I wouldn't really care if he was on the team or not. But to see a guy in his position make such a stupid decision of "sitting out" when he's given a chance to get a free year of college is discouraging.

Steve Corder 9 months ago

How do you know that he's been offered anything?

John Fitzgerald 9 months ago

He was committed to WKU with a full ride scholarship in hand. Need I say more?

Mike Greer 9 months ago

I agree about the opportunity to work out with a great coach, great weight trainer, and fabulous athletes, but to a guy who stands to make millions, a year of free college is darn near worthless. If it were me, I'd put in the class time to get the other benefits you mention.

Between this and the other article I read, I have to wonder if he just doesn't want to expose a weakness he has to the NBA by playing in college or the G-league. Maybe he's afraid he'll get hurt playing with the big boys.

John Fitzgerald 9 months ago

Do you think it's completely worthless or do you think he thinks that? I pray he doesn't think a free year of college is worthless regardless of how much money he's going to make. IF that's what he thinks then society and his parents have failed him.

Suzi Marshall 9 months ago

If I'm a NBA GM, I've got to wonder what kind of work ethics this kid has. It seems he's reluctant to put himself on the line to play with/against elite competition before the NBA Draft.

Dale Rogers 9 months ago

All I have to base this on is what I read in the media but it is beginning to sound like Mitchell Robinson is most interested in his own brand and might not be very open to putting a team first. Not sure he would be a good fit for our team.

Brett McCabe 9 months ago

Or.....get a time machine, go backwards a year and don't make your college decision based on where your Godfather works.

Every time I read an article about bball recruiting, which is not very often, I suddenly feel the urge to take a shower and get the slime off.

William D'Armond 9 months ago

I think everyone is missing the point here. The young man is looking to be drafted in the next NBA draft. Due to him enrolling at and attending class (even if it was 2 days as reported), that makes him ineligible to play for any team this season. If he signed on with KU, he would essentially be a practice player.

Yes he would have access to all the insight of Bill Self and his staff, the facilities and the grind of practice. He would also have to attend class and risk injury during full speed practice. I think the kid has been given the guidance that if he plans to enter the NBA draft next spring, that there is too much risk involved to go to school. He probably would not show for classes and would eventually be a guy that could have a program under NCAA investigation.

KU doesn't need the hassle and Bill Self probably turned him away if he knew the kid would never suit up.

Craig Carson 9 months ago

having this kid would have been nice...KU's lack of front court depth and size makes me nervous for the upcoming season...BUT, Self found a way to crank out 30+ wins and another elite 8 all the while relying on Landen Lucas as the sole interior player (Coleby barely played and Bragg was a no show) last season. And Azibuike is an up grade from Lucas...just hope Preston isnt Bragg 2.0

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