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Crisis averted: Mitchell Robinson reportedly at Western Kentucky

Mitchell Robinson, a 7-foot center from Louisiana, will reportedly still attend Western Kentucky despite the departure of his godfather, assistant coach Shammond Williams.
Mitchell Robinson, a 7-foot center from Louisiana, will reportedly still attend Western Kentucky despite the departure of his godfather, assistant coach Shammond Williams. USA Basketball

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman raised a few eyebrows last week with the following tweets:

Robinson is a 7-foot center from Chalmette, La. whose signing was a major coup for Rick Stansbury at Western. Rivals ranks Robinson as the No. 8 prospect in the Class of 2017. Scout also ranked Robinson eighth.

Stansbury has experienced summer upheaval on his staff, however. Assistant coach Quannas White departed for a spot on Kelvin Sampson’s staff at Houston. Fellow assistants Chris Cheeks and Shammond Williams also departed, both without announcing their future plans.

A guard at North Carolina who went to three Final Fours (1995, 1997 and 1998), Williams was a second-round pick of the Chicago Bulls in 1998. He played in the NBA and overseas before joining the coaching staff at first Furman and then Tulane prior to being hired by Stansbury at WKU. Williams is also Robinson’s godfather and is credited with recruiting the big man out of Louisiana. In fact, Robinson committed one week after Williams joined the Hilltoppers.

But Goodman reported over the weekend that he spoke with Robinson’s mother, Lakeisha, who said her son would remain at WKU for his freshman season.

And Chad Bishop of WBKO-TV in Bowling Green confirmed that Robinson is on the WKU campus.

That’s a huge sigh of relief for Stansbury, the Kentucky native who went 293-165 in 14 years as the head coach at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs reached the NCAA Tournament six times under Stansbury, including four straight appearances from 2002 through 2005. But after failing to make the tourney three straight seasons, Stansbury and then MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, now at Florida, decided to part ways in 2012.

After a couple of years out of coaching, Stansbury joined Billy Kennedy’s staff at Texas A&M and immediately helped the Aggies’ recruiting. He was hired as WKU’s new coach on March 28, 2016, succeeding Ray Harper, who resigned after the suspension of three of his players. Harper led Jacksonville State to the NCAA Tournament last season.

Meanwhile, WKU went 15-17 overall and 9-9 in Conference-USA in its first season under Stansbury last year. But the coach collected a recruiting class ranked No. 10 by Rivals built around three- and four-star prospects Chris Duarte, Jordan Brangers, Marek Nelson, Traveion Hollingworth; shooting guard Josh Anderson, ranked No. 53 by Rivals; Scott High’s Jake Ohmer; and Robinson, Stansbury’s first five-star recruit.

Robinson had first committed to Texas A&M when Stansbury was an assistant, but withdrew the commitment after the assistant’s departure.

Robinson was among the 18 finalists but failed to survive the final cut for the USA U19 team coached by John Calipari that settled for a bronze medal in the FIBA World Cup on Sunday.

“He’s an impact guy from day one. And he would be an impact guy at any college in America,” recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts. “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.”

Meanwhile, Williams’ mysterious departure is already producing repercussions. Montez Mathis, a 6-4 shooting guard from Essex, Md. ranked 80th for the Class of 2018 by 247Sports, tweeted that because of Williams’ exit he is no longer considering the Hilltoppers.

For now, however, according to his mother, Robinson still plans on being in Bowling Green this fall.

During the USA U19 team’s tryouts in Colorado Springs, Robinson told the Courier-Journal’s Fletcher Page, “I think we’re going to do some special things at Western Kentucky. We’ve got a lot of nice people coming in, with recruits and transfers. It’s a good thing for us. What we’ve put together, we could go really far in the NCAA. It should last a long time.”

Rivals Top 20 for Class of 2017

  • 1. Michael Porter, Jr., Missouri
  • 2. Mohamed Bamba, Texas
  • 3. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
  • 4. Trevon Duval, Duke
  • 5. Wendell Carter, Duke
  • 6. Jaren Jackson, Michigan State
  • 7. Collin Sexton, Alabama
  • 8. Mitchell Robinson, Western Kentucky
  • 9. Kevin Knox, Kentucky
  • 10. Billy Preston, Kansas
  • 11. Brandon McCoy, UNLV
  • 12. Troy Brown, Oregon
  • 13. Jarred Vanderbilt, Kentucky
  • 14. P.J. Washington, Kentucky
  • 15. Trae Young, Oklahoma
  • 16. Nick Richards, Kentucky
  • 17. Gary Trent, Jr., Duke
  • 18. Lonnie Walker, Miami
  • 19. Kris Wilkes, UCLA
  • 20. Brian Bowen, Louisville

Source: Rivals