Notre Dame basketball: Robinson eyes Irish
Signs that the once-quiet days around the Christchurch (Va.) School boys basketball offices might get a little crazy last spring surfaced every so often during the season.Watching 6-foot-8, 186-pound small forward Devin Robinson operate during workouts offered head coach Ben Thompson a peek that the kid was ready to push past his potential. The way he worked on the floor, the way he moved from drill-to-drill, the way he played was different from how he once did it. Robinson did it with so much more poise and purpose. And he could play.
During one game last winter, Robinson hit for a triple-double while flirting with a quadruple-double. It was then that Thompson knew Robinson's talent would not remain under wraps for long.
“You're like, 'Man, this kid can be something special,'” Thompson said by phone Thursday morning. “It was like, 'This kid's got it going on.'”
A virtual unknown three years through high school, Robinson has rocketed to a Top 20 national recruit with a who's-who final five college wish list. Dozens of coaches have phoned Thompson trying to get involved with his prized player. Cincinnati, Louisville and Michigan are among the schools that didn't make his final cut. There are times when Thompson can spend every waking hour just trying to get a handle on Robinson's recruitment.
Robinson was due to arrive in South Bend on Thursday night for an official visit to Notre Dame that starts Friday. He spent last weekend at Oklahoma State. After seeing Notre Dame, he will visit Indiana (Oct. 4), Florida (Oct. 11) and Connecticut Oct. 18). There is no leader. There is no timetable for a decision.
“Everything is going well with those five,” Thompson said. “He's pretty wide-open with each of them.”
Phone calls and text messages by the Tribune to Robinson were not returned. That's by design, said Thompson, whose standout player has shied away from shining a media on his situation.
“He's kept to himself,” said Thompson. “The family has to handle a lot and they don't want anything to be taken the wrong way. It's just been really hectic.”
Notre Dame was one of the few schools to recruit Robinson early in his first season at Christchurch when he was a relative unknown. That changed once he hit last summer's AAU circuit and also attended such camps as the Kevin Durant and LeBron James skill sessions. By then, his college wish list ballooned to as many as 19 schools.
“He kind of just exploded,” said Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi. “He's got a great combination of size and skill. He can play multiple positions. You don't see a lot of small forwards with his size.”
Or his skills. Video highlights of Robinson show him shooting it consistently from beyond the 3-point arc. He can drive it and finish with either hand or find the open man. He also seems confident to step inside and shoot the mid-range jumper.
“He's become so versatile trying to become a complete player,” Thompson said. “You look at the leap he's been able to make and wonder what he can do at the next level.”
Irish assistant coach Anthony Solomon visited Robinson last week and returned Monday with head coach Mike Brey. Under NCAA recruiting regulations, Brey is prohibited from commenting on prospects until they sign their national letters of intent the second week of November.
Robinson is the second high school senior to officially visit Notre Dame. Power forward Martin Geben (Hagerstown, Md., Lithuania) toured campus the weekend of Aug. 31 and offered a verbal commitment the following week. He is the first commitment to the Class of 2014.
Notre Dame currently has two scholarships to offer high school seniors.
Robinson averaged 17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks during his junior year at Manchester (Va.) High School. Following that season, Robinson transferred to Christchurch, a private college prep boarding school in Tidewater, and reclassified to graduate in 2014.
Repeating his junior year in 2012-13, Robinson averaged 19.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in his first season at Christchurch. He earned first team All-Virginia prep league honors and was the Division II player of the year as Christchurch won a state championship.
Heading into his final fall of high school, Robinson is ranked the No. 20 prospect and a five-star talent by Rivals.com, No. 24 by Scout.com and No. 74 by ESPN.com. ESPN.com and Scout.com each have Robinson ranked a four-star prospect.
Getting one of the nation's elite talents to visit campus is nothing new at Notre Dame. Irish sophomore Cameron Biedscheid was rated by Rivals.com the nation's No. 28 prospect coming out of high school. Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson, a former standout at nearby Marian High School, was ranked as high as No. 24 by ESPN.com.
Robinson is one of the few Top 20 prospects in recent recruiting seasons to have the Irish in his top five. Part of that may have to do with Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“They've got some good momentum going,” Bossi said. “If they want to compete in that conference, they've got to keep getting really good players. You need some dudes to play with those guys.”
Having Robinson hold Notre Dame in his final five is nice, but having one of the earliest schools to recruit him ultimately signing him would be an early ACC statement.
“It's a lot more important to a sign a kid like that than to just be in on him,” Bossi said. “I do think they've got a good chance with him.”