Evaluation: UNC Commit Brandon Robinson

Brandon Robinson’s strong close to the 2015 travel season paid off. The 6-5 wing accumulated multiple major offers prior to announcing for North Carolina on Monday, awarding the Tar Heels an excellent scorer and overall athlete.

Introduction

Unlike most of the players we profile in our evaluations, the Brandon Robinson story doesn’t truly begin until 2015. From a national perspective, at least, Robinson had built a regional reputation but did not register as one of the first names to leave college coaches’ mouths.

He actually suffered from nagging injuries his junior year, but a late season push suggested he may be getting unwisely overlooked. His relationship with North Carolina began in earnest this past February, when Roy Williams — who was recruiting 2015 wing Jaylen Brown at the time — observed first-hand Robinson’s 25-point performance in a playoff defeat to Brown’s Wheeler squad.

Robinson entered the travel season with the EYBL circuit’s Georgia Stars, but for much of the spring and summer his play flattened out. In 24 total games with the Stars he averaged seven points per contest on 35 percent shooting and 27 percent on threes.

In fairness, the massive Stars — a very strong yet very oddly composed team, with three centers all inhabiting the lineup at times — made for a challenging fit, and Robinson joined Team Loaded NC to round out the summer.

Competing on the Adidas circuit to close the summer in Las Vegas, Robinson unleashed a torrent of performances ranging from strong to ridiculous. He topped the 15-point scoring mark in four of Loaded’s seven official contests, and in an exhibition game he buried seven three-pointers — once again, with Williams on hand — in a single outing.

That week enabled him to rise to No. 55 in the 2016 class. He also reimagined his recruitment and cut his list to six in the early fall: UNC, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Georgia and Louisville.

After visiting Chapel Hill in September, however, Robinson scrapped his other visits and accelerated his timetable. The writing was on the wall and Robinson gave the Tar Heels a highly desired wing commitment.

Assets

Robinson is a long, spidery 6-5 athlete. He possesses quick feet and a wiry frame with excellent quickness and good flexibility. In fact, it’s his defense that first attracted my notice. He spreads wide and utilizes his lateral quickness to smother opposing ballhanders, and from that perspective — and in terms of body type — he may remind UNC fans of former wing Jackie Manuel.

But Robinson is a far more accomplished offensive player. The young Manuel was more consistently productive during the 2000 summer, actually, but the hitch and awkward rotation on his shot were evident even then.

Robinson, on the other hand, shoots a very high-arching ball with a nice release and follow through. His relative lack of accuracy with the Stars did raise eyebrows, but his later results with Loaded and his sound mechanics bode well for the next level.

He’s also an excellent athlete who projects as a scoring weapon in transition. Robinson possesses the speed and the leaping ability to finish himself or elevate for tip-dunks of his teammates misses.


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Examining the bigger picture, coaches and scouts love late bloomers. Robinson certainly does appear to be that, and many believe strongly he will build off his Las Vegas showings throughout the 2015-16 season.

Deficits

A lack of strength stands out most. Robinson may be a couple more years away from being able to hold his own as a defender and rebounder, and of course his ability to drive and finish through contact could suffer as well.

And back to his time on the EYBL circuit, his shooting numbers were just so surprisingly low. Interestingly, his accuracy spiked as he took relatively more threes with Team Loaded — more than half his attempts in Vegas were threes — while he attempted far fewer long bombs with the Stars and instead forced ill-advised shots off the dribble.

Improving from medium-range and on the move will be significant to his long-term career prospects, though at UNC wings historically have enjoyed success in a dunker-shooter-transition scorer mold.

Outlook

In a perfect world Robinson would be able to serve as an understudy his freshman season while he gained sufficient weight for the ACC level, but given UNC’s roster he may have to play a meaningful role next year.

He’s clearly gifted enough to help right away and projects as a multi-dimensional contributor as he matures, and his production should scale upward to the extent he’s surrounded by a gifted point guard and interior scoring presence. It’s likely no accident that he authored his finest summer performances alongside elite point guard Dennis Smith in addition to ace big man Edrice Adebayo for Loaded.


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Robinson’s ultimate identity at UNC could be to borrow partially from Manuel’s defensive heritage while also taking the kinds of shots former wings Wayne Ellington and Danny Green wielded during their time in Chapel Hill.

He also possesses the size, athleticism and shooting ability to draw attention from NBA scouts before concluding is college years, and certainly Robinson projects to enjoy a professional career at some level.


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