Robinson sends pro stock soaring

There were those among the NBA scouting community who felt, had Kansas sophomore power forward Thomas Robinson opted to enter the NBA Draft, he would have earned almost certainly earned a spot in the lottery. Fortunately for Kansas fans, he returned for another year, and spoke with Jonathan Givony of Draft Express about his rising professional stock.

If one were the understated type, one might say Kansas junior power forward Thomas Robinson has had a good summer on the camp circuit. Solid. Productive.

If one were more prone to calling situations as one sees them, however, they may use phrases such as "freaking spectacular" - and they would hit much closer to the mark.

Robinson earned rave reviews for his play at events such as the Amar'e Stoudemire Nike Skills Academy in June, and Adidas Nations earlier this month.

From the Amar'e Academy in Chicago, ESPN's Eamonn Brennan said it was "impossible to ignore Robinson's play," while Jonathan Givony of the NBA Draft prediction site DraftExpress wrote this of the 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior from Los Angeles and Adidas Nations:

"Thomas Robinson continues to show new wrinkles to his game, along w/same phenomenal athleticism. Poised to have a huge season."

Recently, spent a few minutes with the NBA draft guru to discuss Robinson's soaring stock, and where he sees him in a loaded draft.

"I thought he was great," Givony said, simply. "He impressed the heck out of me. I thought he was probably the most impressive guy out of the 30 players that were at the event, and there were some very highly touted guys there. Some potential top 5 picks."

Indeed, the roster of current college stars serving as counselors at Adidas Nations included the likes of Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Perry Jones, LeBryan Nash, Reeves Nelson, Mason and Miles Plumlee, Jared Sullinger and Patric Young.

It was a star-studded group, but even among them Robinson managed to shine, bringing the same level of intensity and energy to the court for which he is known on game days inside Allen Fieldhouse.

In addition to his effort level, Givony said his frame and athleticism helped him stand out, but it was the new component of the athletic forward's game that surprised him the most.

"Ball handling," he said. "Using that ability to beat guys off the dribble and finish around the basket. That's something we didn't see a lot of last year. He was mostly a finisher, he was an offensive rebound guy. He wasn't creating a whole lot of offense, and I think that was the difference this time."

Most Kansas fans - and indeed, most fans of college basketball in general - are under the assumption the Washington, D.C. native will make the jump to the pros following his junior campaign.

While nothing is written in stone, of course, should he choose to do so, what spot would he maintain in next year's NBA draft - one that is potentially as loaded with talent as any in recent memory? Though Givony typically likes to hedge his bets and let things play out before making a prediction, where Robinson is concerned he has no such reservations.

"Most players, I much prefer to hedge my bets on and say it really depends on what kind of season they have," he explained. "But just out of what I saw of him last year and this summer, I'd be really, really surprised if he didn't end up being drafted in the lottery. Even the top 10 is not a stretch for him."

That may come as a small surprise to some, even given the list of attributes working in Robinson's favor, for one, simple reason - his height. By prototypical NBA standards, Robinson - who ranges from 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-10 based upon what one reads or whom one asks - is likely a little shorter than the average bear.

While execs will undoubtedly take a look at his measurements, the positives appear to far outweigh that one potential negative; which, as Givony noted, isn't really much of a negative. So great are his assets, he wouldn't even rule out the possibility of Robinson going as high as the top five.

"The NBA is littered with players like Thomas Robinson who are very, very productive and aren't even as athletic as he is," he said. "He has the wingspan of a guy who is 6-foot-10, 6-foot-11, so it doesn't even matter that much."

In recent years, Kansas has developed a reputation as a veritable big man factory - a direct pipeline for post players from the college ranks to the pros. Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich and - most recently - Marcus and Markieff Morris have all been selected in the NBA draft during Self's tenure; Aldrich, Arthur and the Twins in the first round.

The perception is flawed though, Givony said, because the tradition of Kansas supplying the NBA with fresh talent stretches back for much, much longer.

"Kansas has had a reputation as an NBA factory since Wilt Chamberlain," he said, laughing. "There are so many NBA guys that went through KU and there are going to be a million more who come through there."

"Danny Manning has done a phenomenal job," Givony added. "There's no way around that. He's a guy who takes good players and turns them into something that's much, much better in a couple of years."

For more of Givony's analysis, be sure to visit Top Stories