5-star KU target Jeremiah Robinson-Earl picks Villanova
Tuesday afternoon, seven months after Villanova ended the Kansas basketball program’s 2017-18 season with a 95-79 victory at the Final Four in San Antonio, the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks again.
Five-star prospect Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., who played his first three years of high school basketball at nearby Bishop Miege, orally committed to Villanova on Tuesday, picking Jay Wright’s defending national champions over Bill Self and Kansas.
Robinson-Earl told Rivals.com of his commitment to Villanova shortly after 5:30 p.m. and announced it on his Instagram page minutes later.
"It's a small community so everybody is real tight with each other and when I went on my visit I enjoyed how tight everybody is and how much they support the team," Robinson-Earl told Rivals.com's Eric Bossi. "Philadelphia is kind of a pro town but everybody there is down for Villanova and I thought that was cool. I respected them a lot to even offer me as a kid from the Kansas area because a lot of schools held back because of where I'm from."
Earlier this month, Robinson-Earl trimmed his list of finalists to KU and Nova after naming those two programs, along with Arizona, North Carolina and Notre Dame as his final five.
The son of former KU forward Lester Earl, Robinson-Earl has long been at the top of KU’s wish list in the 2019 recruiting class, where he ranks No. 10 overall according to Rivals.com.
The Kansas coaching staff now figures to turn its full attention to forward Matt Hurt, who has been at the top of the team's wish list with Robinson-Earl all along, as a signature piece in the 2019 class.
Hurt, a five-star prospect from Rochester, Minn., is ranked No. 6 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class and is known as more of a perimeter forward with an excellent jump shot and elite athleticism. Robinson-Earl is more of a true power forward who does a lot of his damage down low.
Other names who figure to get some added attention from the Kansas coaches now that Robinson-Earl is off the board include: 4-star Zeke Nnaji (6-10, 215), Hurt’s AAU teammate who is ranked No. 37 in the 2019 class; 4-star Chandler Lawson (6-9, 215), the younger brother of current KU players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who is ranked No. 87 in the 2019 class; and 5-star Precious Achiuwa (6-9, 215), a power player from Monteverde Academy ranked No. 8 in the 2019 class.
KU also remains in the hunt for No. 2 overall prospect James Wiseman, a 7-foot center from Memphis.
It’s too early to tell — and may never be known — what role, if any, KU’s alleged involvement in the recent college basketball scandal played in Robinson-Earl’s decision to pick Villanova. But Self said last week that the subsequent trial and KU’s name being so prevalent in the news had impacted the team's recruiting efforts.
“I would say that it hasn’t helped by any stretch, and there’s been a lot more explaining that you try to do concerning what’s transpired in New York,” Self said. “But, with that being said, the explaining is limited because you can’t talk about it in a way that you would like to. So when I say I can’t talk about certain things to you (media), I’m saying the exact same things to other people, also. It’s not like I’m picking and choosing who I’m saying that to.”
It’s logical to think that KU being mentioned in the trial has created questions and uncertainty for a few of the families and players KU is recruiting. And Self said such an environment could open the door for programs in the hunt for the same players as Kansas to paint themselves in a better light and cast doubt on what committing to Kansas might mean.
“I’m not going to run from this,” Self said last week. “If our name comes up, I’ll talk to recruits. Our name came up. (And I tell them) this is how our name came up. Whatever. Without going into specific details of the trial. Because those are facts. It came out. That’s what has been reported.
“I think it does put you in a situation where you need to explain. And it’s been hard because we haven’t been able to explain.”
KU currently has two players committed in the 2019 class — four-star guards Christian Braun (No. 112) and Issac McBride (No. 109) — and figures to be in the hunt for at least two or three more players in the class.
The early signing period opens Nov. 14 and runs through Nov. 21, and the regular signing period hits April 17, 2019.