Go ahead and line up your fat jokes. At 7-0 and a robust 330 pounds, Elbert Robinson certainly is no stranger to hearing them. Thing is, though, the joke ultimately may play out onto Robinson's detractors.
A player that size typically won't go unnoticed, but it wasn't until his junior season that Robinson cracked our national rankings. Already big and powerful, he clearly boasted immense potential.
Louisville became one of the first high-majors to chart his progress closely, and the Cardinals along with Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida and Alabama (among others) began to give chase.
That's not to say it was a smooth process. Robinson's limitations became apparent at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this past June, and he struggled with injuries during the summer. Still, he drew offers from multiple programs and set up a fall visit schedule with intended stops to Georgia Tech, Nebraska, LSU and Ohio State.
But his trip to Baton Rouge carried the day, and Robinson committed to the Tigers in early October. He'll now turn his focus toward having a big senior season and preparing himself physically for the SEC.
Just take the first three letters from this section's title … and add an 'M.' Robinson is positively massive in the post, using his physical immensity to punish and bowl over defenders. He's an oak tree capable of growing deep roots, and rarely will anyone be able to prevent him from setting up shop in the paint.
Robinson also possesses fine hands and relatively nimble feet. He's not just a catch and dump player, as he can wheel around on either shoulder and deliver a jumphook or short jump shot. It's a work in progress, not hapless. He's also naturally a foul magnet due to his size, and he uses his posterior with the kind of mean-spirited aggression you'd hope to see in a center.
His defensive rebounding is good now and will get better as he gains experience, and he should develop into a shutdown post defender.
There's no tapdancing around it: Robinson simply is way too big. He doesn't change ends quickly — and sometimes, he doesn't change them at all — and in uptempo settings he therefore can become liability. He also doesn't jump particularly well and struggles with quickness and reflexes.
His commitment to fitness looms by far as his most pressing challenge and substantial obstacle, and he may require a full two or three more years to work himself into optimal shape while simultaneously learning LSU's system and adjusting to the rigors of collegiate competition.
It's difficult to project Robinson's future, because no one knows yet how good he'll become once he attains ideal conditioning. Perhaps he'll be only marginally better, but more likely losing those pounds will make all the difference. Big guys with good hands are rare, and he's certainly worth the resource investment on the part of LSU.
Don't be shocked if Robinson ultimately makes his way to the NBA, but of course we have to hedge because there's no guarantee he'll be able to maximize his talent. There have been instances over the past decade when a player simply hasn't been able to make it happen — former UCLA and current Georgetown center Josh Smith springs to mind — but we remain hopeful that Robinson will learn from others' mistakes and become a dominant post presence.