Devin Robinson is the 24th-best overall prospect in the Class of 2014. He will be visiting Oklahoma State this weekend with his parents and summer league coach in the first of his five official visits.
In addition to OSU, the 6-foot-8, 180-pound Robinson also has visits scheduled to Notre Dame (Sept. 21), Indiana (Oct. 5), Florida (Oct. 12) and Connecticut (Oct. 19). He also had offers from Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan and a host of others.
But just 18 months ago, the Virginian had no offers and had not even received one recruiting letter, including from two schools from his hometown – Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond. By the end of last summer while playing for the Richmond Squires not only had people begun to notice Robinson but he had also started receiving plenty of interest. He began appearing in the national player rankings and receiving scholarship offers.
"He goes from a guy with no offers to being recruited by everyone in just 18 months. I've been doing this for 25 years, and the closest thing I can compare him to was the Tracy McGrady deal (when he went from a relatively unknown to the number nine overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft)," said Tony Squire, who founded the Richmond Squires program in 1987.
Robinson plays at Christchurch prep school in Virginia for head coach Ben Thompson. He transferred there a year ago and reclassified for the Class of 2014. He led the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots during the 2012-13 season as the Seahorses won their first state championship since 1991. "He was fantastic. He had an incredible year and had an incredible impact on the team," said Thompson.
"His improvement the last 12 to 18 months has been really remarkable, and a lot of people have been instrumental in helping him. But he's still getting better. He still has his best ball ahead of him," Thompson added.
Squire, who also is joining the Robinson family in visiting Stillwater this weekend, has seen his share of top talent over the years. He has helped with the development of such NBA players as Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire, according to the Richmond Squires website (Richmond Squires website).
"I'm telling you, I've watched Kevin Durant grow up. He reminds me of Kevin Durant," said Squire. "He has this long, lean body and people say he's a stretch 4 or 3. He can really put it in the basket, he's athletic, but once he gets stronger he's going to be just like Durant. He's got the same body type and everything."
Oklahoma State was one of the first schools to notice Robinson and begin recruiting him. That's why the Cowboys are the only school west of the Mississippi River that he lists in his final five, and a big reason they are the first official visit for Robinson and his family.
"They weren't on him initially but once the season started again they got on it, and they got on it hard, and they haven't missed a beat since," said Squire. "Travis (Ford) and Butch Pierre haven't missed a beat. They've been at all of our games. One or the other was at all of our games in Orlando (at the AAU Super Showcase in July) and everywhere else."
That has been noticed by Robinson's parents, who are very active in his recruitment, said Squire.
"The x-factor for Devin Robinson has been his parents. His mom (Kim Robinson) was keeping inventory at all the tournaments from spring time on which schools were there, how many times they showed up ... Devin Robinson's mom is what I call taking the bull by the horns in recruiting, and making people understand," said Squire.
"In this day and time we see so many kids that try to handle recruiting on their own, and I think that's the craziest thing in the world for a young person to try to grow up over night and think you can handle something that you've never done before. That's not the case with Devin Robinson. He has a foundation.
"Mom has kept him understanding that it's not about who your childhood dreams are for a school. It's now about what's best for you. That's been their motto throughout the recruiting process. She wants to make sure that she provides the best situation for her kid, and the (schools) that truly need him and not the ones that just want him."
Squire and Thompson both says the Robinsons will be looking for something specific on the official visits in the coming weeks.
"Relationships are really important (to them). I think the relationship that he's built with coach Pierre and coach Ford has been critical. I think he respects the fact that Oklahoma State has a good program, and has developed guys and wins a lot of games. I think along with the basketball, the relationships have been very key for Oklahoma State," said Thompson.
Squire said, "His mom and his dad are paying attention. When they see that hometown environment and that close-knit family atmosphere ... She has said (to me), I've got to be real comfortable in sending my baby away.
"I can tell you this point blank, Travis Ford and it initially started with Butch Pierre, have done their work. They've done it the right way, they've done it the respectful way, and that's why Oklahoma State got the first visit. Everybody was trying to get that first visit.
"They are such a tight-knit family, the key for Devin Robinson's family, and I mean his mom and his dad, wherever she gets the home feeling and the family atmosphere ... you can bet she's going to want to come out there and visit with some of the parents of the players and talk to the players, and Devin will do the same thing. If they see that home feeling and see a tight-knit family. that's going to be a big part of what they are looking for."
But will the parents feel comfortable enough sending their son more than 1,300 miles across the United States to play for the Cowboys?
"I'm telling you now that Oklahoma State getting that first visit is a testament to the work that they've put in. They are major players in this thing. I know they've done great with the parents," Squire said.
Although there is almost no chance that Robinson will ever get to play with Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State, the OSU sophomore's decision to bypass entering the NBA Draft last spring and return for the 2013-14 season did not go unnoticed by the four-star recruit.
"To be honest, it makes the program a little more attractive that a guy as talented as him can go to Oklahoma State and do so well," said Thompson. "He would have been one of the top five picks in the (NBA) draft, and to me that says a lot about the place. For a guy to turn down the NBA to stay there for another year means that he must like what's going on there and enjoys being around coach Ford. It shows that the kid must really enjoy himself there in Stillwater.
"I think it shows that you don't have to go to Duke or Kentucky or to name program to make a name for yourself, and that there are other really good programs that can develop pros."
Robinson's five official visits will take place over the next six weeks, and the early basketball signing period is Nov. 13-20. Although there is no timetable for making a decision, Squire believes it could come at any time.
"Let me say this, and I'm just going off experience, nothing is etched in stone. Who knows? He could come out to Oklahoma State and get overwhelmed, and who knows what goes on in those kids minds because they have a list of things they are looking for ... I would be thinking after those visits or after a great visit, I couldn't pinpoint what could happen next.
"Oklahoma State has a very good chance. Think about some of the schools that didn't make the list. Again, the x-factor is his parents. His mother graduated from UVa, but she's interested in the best interest of her kid."
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