Five-star high school prospects from other states flocking to Kentucky to play their college basketball is, of course, nothing new.
What would be new is if such a player chose, not UK or Louisville, but Western Kentucky as his college destination.
That might just happen in the next recruiting cycle.
A perfect storm of circumstances is coming together that could lead five-star center Mitchell Robinson to Bowling Green.
Robinson — a 6-foot-11 prospect from New Orleans — recently decommitted from Texas A&M, where new Hilltoppers head coach Rick Stansbury had been his primary recruiter.
Last week, Stansbury hired Robinson’s godfather — former North Carolina standout Shammond Williams — as the newest assistant coach at Western Kentucky.
Now, a handful of recruiting analysts are pegging the Toppers as the favorite in Robinson’s recruitment.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels didn’t go as far as to name WKU the frontrunner for Robinson, but he did acknowledge that the recent coaching changes would almost certainly factor into the recruitment.
Robinson is one of the premier post defenders in the country, and Scout.com ranks him as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Daniels said. “He’s a guy that’s just starting to hit his stride right now. He’s got tremendous length, timing. He’s a good shot blocker and runs rim to rim. He’s not real developed offensively, but he’s a good athlete that’s mobile and will block shots.”
Daniels recalled evaluating Robinson recently in a game against Wendell Carter, the No. 3 prospect in the Scout rankings and one of the most coveted post players in the nation.
“If you didn’t know anything about either of those guys when you were watching, you would have thought they were the same tier prospect,” Daniels said.
Robinson has only been playing organized basketball for a couple of years, but he’s already made an impact. He averaged 15.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocked shots per game during the Nike EYBL regular season this spring, leading the league in blocks and grabbing the most total rebounds on the circuit.
After decommitting from Texas A&M a couple of months ago, Robinson received immediate interest from Louisiana State and North Carolina and said at that time that he’d like to hear from Kentucky.
He told the Herald-Leader that he hasn’t been contacted by UK yet, but he’s still hoping the Cats will show some interest in his recruitment, noting John Calipari’s track record with five-star post players.
“He must be a very good coach if he can get his boys to the NBA like that in one year, two years,” he said.
Robinson also confirmed that Western Kentucky will indeed be a major factor in his recruitment, saying he’s “tight” with Williams and feels close to Stansbury.
“I built a relationship with him,” he said. “He’s a man of his word. When he said he was going to come after me, he did.”
Stansbury has already successfully recruited Robinson once. If he does it again, it would be a monumental coup for the Toppers.
“He probably would be the best player to ever commit there,” Daniels said. “And Rick Stansbury can recruit, so I wouldn’t put anything past him.”