The rocky relationship between Mitchell Robinson, a top-10 recruit in the class of 2017, and Western Kentucky is over, just not official on social media. Robinson skipped a practice before Western Kentucky’s overseas trip. When they went to check his dorm, it was cleared out and he was long gone. This isn’t a crime scene investigation though. Robinson, upset after his godfather and former North Carolina point guard, Shammond Williams “resigned” from the Hilltoppers, it reignited the feeling of doubt in Robinson. While it’s still cloudy what lies next in this ever-growing soap opera, one thing is clear: the home-state Tigers are right in the thick of things.
What Went Wrong
Rick Stansbury, who was a career 293-165 at Mississippi State, left the Bulldogs in 2012 for personal reasons, returned to coaching as an assistant at Texas A&M in 2014 and then was hired in 2016 to turn a fledgling Western Kentucky program around. After going 15-17 last year, tied for seventh in the Conference USA, Stansbury decided to change things up.
That first came in the opportunity to hire Shammond Williams with the intention that he would bring his godson, Mitchell Robinson to Western Kentucky, along with highly-touted recruit Josh Anderson. His plan worked, but the uncertainty with Robinson was quickly apparent. After signing in the early-signing period, Robinson posted on social media that he wanted to look around at other schools, although the whole signing-a-letter-of-intent is kind of a troubling issue. Things went quiet and went according to plan until Shammond “resigned” from his assistant coach position, something that is still murky as to the details.
Once again, Robinson wanted out and was looking around. After convincing from his mother, Robinson attended summer school at Western Kentucky before finally having enough on his own and leaving. While it may make Little Stansbury feel better about himself, his suspension of Robinson earlier this week for a “violation of team rules” is meaningless. Robinson is done at WKU.
Where Does It Go From Here
After news broke of Robinson’s departure, it was reported that he was looking at the University of Kentucky and the home-state LSU Tigers. It likely won’t go further than those two. However, it’s how he gets there (if at all) that will be the challenge. It can go a few ways:
- Using the departure of his godfather, Robinson could apply for a waiver, making himself eligible immediately, which would likely be the top choice for Robinson if he had a say.
- WKU releases Robinson from his LOI, allowing him to play anywhere he wants unless they put restrictions on where he can go. The issue for WKU is when a small school gets a big-name recruit, that raises some eyebrows. When the main reason you obtained said recruit “resigns” under unknowing circumstances, those eyebrows raise to the point of the People’s Champ. Not saying shady things happened, but if they did and WKU wanted to keep Robinson quiet, letting him out of his LOI may be in their best interest.
- He transfers out because I doubt after all of this that Stansbury will just let the kid out of LOI, especially following the suspension announcement. In this case, he would have to sit out a year at wherever he ended up.
- If he does in fact have to transfer, he may not even make it to another campus. There is the chance he could go play overseas in a place like Australia, where recent top recruit Terrance Ferguson went, or just train on his own and enter the 2018 NBA Draft.
Option 1 would likely be tough to come by for Robinson, and I can’t see option 2 happening as well after the tumultuous path this has gone. To me, I think it’s overseas this coming year or sitting out and playing at LSU in 2018. Kentucky or better known as ODU, One and Done University, will pose a threat, but I believe he wants to come back home.
So Why All The Ruckus?
That’s why. Because a seven-footer should not be able to do the things that he can. Just watch the 53-second mark if you watch one play. Runs out, absolutely destroys a three-pointer, runs the ball down and dunks it in one fluid motion. Robinson is the type of player that turns your bubble team into an Elite Eight team. The 2017-18 Tigers will have to go through some growing pains without a true star for new coach Will Wade. If Robinson were to have to sit out a year and join LSU for 2018-19, he would join a freshman class that already features top-30 recruit Javonte Smart and one that could boast Naz Reid, Darius Days and Josh LeBlanc, along with incoming transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams. That could definitely set up a deep run into March for the Tigers if it all came to fruition.
This ride is far from over but could spell good news for the Tigers in the end. So pay your fee to get on, buckle up safely and get ready for the ride that could propel the Tigers back into the college basketball landscape.