The Kansas basketball team, which is in the market for a big man for the 2017-18 season following the recent departure of Jack Whitman, will entertain a 7-foot McDonald’s All-American this weekend.
Mitchell Robinson, a 220-pound center from Chalmette (La.) High School who recently was released from his letter-of-intent at Western Kentucky, has scheduled a visit to KU.
Robinson — the No. 8-ranked player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com — reportedly visited LSU on Thursday but did not orally commit to his in-state school.
Because Robinson participated in practices with the team, which was preparing for a summer trip to Costa Rica, he would have to receive a waiver from the NCAA in order to play for another Division I team without having to sit out a season. Sources told The Star it would be a longshot for Robinson to claim that waiver because he started a summer class at Western Kentucky.
Robinson — he scored 14 points, grabbed three rebounds and had two blocked shots in the 2017 McDonald’s game in Chicago — signed with Western Kentucky at least partly because of his relationship with his godfather, Shammond Williams, a former assistant coach who left his post on July 3.
“You know, it was probably just as much a surprise to me as it was to you when we found out he wasn’t here,” Rick Stansbury, WKU’s second-year coach, told the Bowling Green Daily News. “Mitchell’s a good kid. He was doing fine here. But for whatever reasons, he’s no longer here.
“As I’ve said, he would benefit from structure, and he was doing fine. He’d been here 2 1/2 weeks, done well in his class, started practice. We had two days of practice and an individual (workout), so there’s no question he was adjusting. It was a huge adjustment for him and he was handling that. Outside of that, you know just as much as I know.”
The Daily News reported that Robinson’s coaches and teammates were unaware he was leaving WKU until he didn’t show up for a July 27 practice. Coaches found his dorm room cleared out.
The school issued a statement that Robinson would be suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules — that is, missing practice. Upon learning of Robinson’s desire to opt out of his letter of intent, Stansbury removed the suspension and announced the player had been released from his scholarship agreement.
I had to move on,” Stansbury told the Daily News. “I’ve got a team to coach. I’ve got a team to get ready (for trip to Costa Rica). I didn’t want there to be any more distractions than there were for our team, because I like our team, I like our kids.
“Unfortunately, good or bad, right or wrong, that’s kind of the landscape of college basketball nowadays. That’s kind of where it is. There’s so much uncertainty with all these kids — reclassifying, they’re all just jumping around changing schools. That’s the climate we’re in today.”
Stansbury was a Texas A&M assistant in October 2015 when Robinson initially committed to the Aggies. Robinson decommitted shortly afrer Stansbury was hired at Hilltoppers coach in March 2016.
On the court, he averaged 25.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game as a senior at Chalmette High.
“Robinson is a lengthy 5-man with broad shoulders, long arms, and a bevy of athleticism,” reads ESPN.com’s official scouting report on the player. “The springy 5-man is quick off the floor (great timing) at both ends and his hands are terrific. He is an outstanding rebounder with magnetic hands. He can snatch rebounds in and out of his area due to his nimble feet, bounce, and instincts. His outlet passing is evolving and he runs like a deer. In addition, he can receive passes in transition and dunk with ease. Defensively, he is an outstanding shot blocker with impeccable timing. He gets off the floor extremely quick and he keeps the ball in play. Robinson is one of the elite prospects in the class and his upside is immense.”
Listed under the category of weaknesses, ESPN.com wrote: “In the half court set his post game is still in its rudimentary stages. He needs to learn how to play wide while posting up and bend his knees for leverage. He needs to work on a go-to move and be able to finish through contact as well.”