One of the rarest commodities in college basketball these days is the 7-foot center.
Any such player worth his salt can usually parlay his size into a one- or two-and-done ticket straight to the play-for-pay world of the NBA.
The 247Sports.com rankings show four 7-footers in the national top 100 rankings for the 2014 class. That list is topped by 7-1 Kentucky verbal Karl Towns of New Jersey. Next on the list is 7-0 Elbert Robinson of Texas. (It should be noted there are also several highly rated centers in the 6-10 range, including Illinois’ Jahlil Okafor and Texas’ Myles Turner.)
But few, if any, players take up as much in the lane as the 320-pound Robinson, who preps at Garland (Texas) Centennial Lakeview High School.
“I’m very aggressive on the block,” Robinson said. “I love to play defense and block shots. I can also pass the ball very well. I feel like I can shoot the midrange shots, too.”
Robinson enjoyed an impressive summer as his rankings soared from the lower reaches of the top 100. In the most recent update, he is ranked as the nation’s No. 56 prospect overall for 2014 by 247Sports.com. He also checks in as the nation’s fifth-best center prospect as well as the No. 5 prospect overall in Texas.
He spent the summer playing for the Dallas Seawolves Elite AAU team. He also excelled in camp settings at the NBA Top 100 camp in June and the LeBron James Skills Academy in July.
“I think I showed people I can run the floor for my size and I am more athletic than they thought,” Robinson said. “I can move my feet on defense.”
As a sophomore at Lakeview Centennial, Robinson averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds. Last year as a junior, he improved to 14 points, 12.5 rebounds and six blocked shots per game as his team went 28-8 and shared a district championship.
Robinson has averaged a double-double in each of his last two seasons at Lakeview Centennial
His coach, J.T. Locklear, said there is a lot to like about Robinson.
“The big thing that sets him apart is for as tall as he is, he is also a thick kid,” Locklear said. “He is a big, strong, thick kid. It’s one thing to be a 7-footer who weighs 215. It’s another thing to be a 7-footer who weighs 285 to 300 pounds. He has strong legs. He is hard to get around to guard.
“When he sets picks for other players or plants himself in the lane, you just can’t move him. There is something to be said about that. He also has really long arms. He may be 7-foot, but he has a wingspan of 7-5 or 7-6. He has big hands and long arms. That makes him that much harder to guard.”
Jerry Meyer, the national basketball recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, shared what he has seen in Robinson on the travel circuit.
“He is very skilled and he is huge,” Meyer said. “He is a space eater. He may not be the quickest guy and the most mobile. But he really controls space. He has good hands and rebounds well. He has a knack for passing the ball as well and he can score.
“He is a very skilled player with great size. I think it is important for him to find the right fit. It’s not like he can’t play in a running system. But it needs to be a system that can take advantage of what he can do.”
Whittling The List
Robinson has offers from top schools from coast-to-coast. He seems to have cut his list down to a manageable number for visits.
He has already made official visits to Georgia Tech (Aug. 30), Nebraska (Sept. 6) and LSU (Sept. 21). He will visit Ohio State this weekend as the Buckeyes host Wisconsin for a prime time football game.
As for the destination for his fifth and final official visit, Robinson said, “We’re trying to decide if we’re going to go to Georgetown or Texas A&M.”
Other top schools that have offered include Baylor, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.
Locklear said he keeps in contact with Robinson about his college deliberation.
“We talk about it all the time,” the coach said. “He is taking everything into consideration. College basketball is a fluid situation as far as where coaches are and who’s going to be where. When you talk about a Georgetown or an Ohio State, those coaches are solidified and there is a lot of stability with their staff and the players they bring in. That’s something, if you go to those places, you know you’re probably going to win. I think that’s important to him. He wants to go to a place where he is going to win.
“There is also something to be said about the other places and coaches who are excited about what they do. Is there really a better situation and environment than at the University of Nebraska. There is a lot to it. I don’t think there will be one reason why he picks a school. I think it will be a combination of things like how he feels about a coaching staff, the group of guys who are already there, what he can do with his education and looking toward his future and a chance to play in the NBA.”
Robinson makes no bones about the fact he hopes to be in the NBA sooner rather than later. He is confident in his ability.
“That’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I know I will be in the league soon. I am going to take it as it comes. I don’t want to stay (in college) more than two years.”
Here were Robinson’s comments on several of his top college choices:
* On LSU – “It was pretty cool. It was a great atmosphere. I was there for the Auburn game (last Saturday). They have nice facilities and a good academic program. The coaches are great. I had a pretty good time there. I think they will be on the rise. They have some pretty good guys there.”
* On Nebraska – “They have great facilities and a new arena. It was nice out there. It was better than I expected. The team there is cool. They have good team bonding and it’s like a family there.”
* On Georgia Tech – “They are still in the running. It’s in a great city. They have a lot of exposure. I like Coach Gregory a lot. They’re in the ACC, too.”
* On Ohio State – “I heard it is pretty nice. I have not been there yet. I hear I am in for a big surprise this weekend. I talk to (assistant Dave) Dickerson and Thad Matta. The coaching staff is pretty good. It’s a great program. They have gotten a lot of bigs to the league.”
* On Texas A&M – “That was actually my first offer. I have a good relationship with the coaches. They just got a big-time recruit in Alex Robinson. It would be great to play with him. I’m considering them.”
* On Georgetown – “It’s Big Man U. They are known for their big men. I think it’s a good fit. Their offense, I am a very good passer and I think I would fit into their offense.”
Asked if he plans to sign during the early period in November or wait until the spring, Robinson admitted, “We haven’t made that decision yet. That’s kind of hard to say.”
Click here for video of Robinson in action.
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