Two months on the job, and Western Kentucky basketball coach Rick Stansbury has already picked up a commitment from one of the most talented recruits in the program’s history.
Five-star center Mitchell Robinson committed to the Hilltoppers on Wednesday, giving WKU a top-10 national prospect for its recruiting class of 2017.
Robinson — a 6-foot-11 prospect from New Orleans — originally committed to Texas A&M last October, and Stansbury was his primary recruiter while serving as the Aggies’ top assistant coach. A few weeks after Stansbury took the Western Kentucky job, Robinson announced that he was no longer committed to Texas A&M.
Earlier this month, Stansbury added former North Carolina standout Shammond Williams, who is also Robinson’s godfather, to his coaching staff at Western, which quickly emerged as a possible favorite for the talented recruit.
Scout.com ranks Robinson as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017, and he’s ranked as highly as No. 6 overall (by 247Sports). He’s the No. 9 overall recruit in the 2017 composite rankings.
“He’s an impact guy from day one. And he would be an impact guy at any college in America,” said Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels. “He’s been as good defensively as anyone in the Nike EYBL this year. And he’s improving at a pretty rapid rate. He’s the type of player that’s going to enter (Conference USA) and probably be as good of a prospect as there is in that conference.
“He’s the type of guy that can really jump-start that program.”
Daniels told the Herald-Leader that Robinson would probably be the “best player to ever” commit to WKU out of high school. You’d have to go back 50 years to find a Hilltoppers recruit to rival this commitment. Jim McDaniels joined WKU in 1967 following his stellar career at Allen County High School and remains the Toppers’ all-time leading scorer.
McDaniels was a first-team Parade All-American and Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball coming out of high school.
Robinson, who expressed interest in UK but was not recruited by the Wildcats, averaged 15.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocked shots per game during the regular season on the Nike circuit this spring, leading the league in blocks and grabbing the most total rebounds on the circuit.
Western Kentucky is also in the mix for Top 100 national recruit Galen Alexander, a small forward in the class of 2017 who narrowed his list Tuesday to seven schools: Arizona, Louisiana State, Marquette, Memphis, North Carolina State, TCU and WKU.
The Toppers have also been linked to high-profile transfer Malik Newman, who was one of the best prospects in the class of 2015 and is leaving Mississippi State after one season there.
“Rick Stansbury has always been known as a dynamic recruiter and a guy that can get players,” Daniels said. “And now I think he’s showing everybody that, not only could he get players at Mississippi State and Texas A&M, but he’s going to continue to do so at Western Kentucky.”