Brandon Robinson is a long, spidery 6-5 perimeter presence. Roy Williams has compared the skinny wing to former Tar Heel Jackie Manuel, and the two players’ body types certainly do bear a close resemblance.
From a style point of view, they do differ dramatically. Robinson’s No. 1 attribute is his high-arching jump shot, which is very smooth and features an extended follow through. He elevates nicely and gets the ball out of his hands reasonably quickly, so he shouldn’t struggle more than any other freshman translating his shot to college.
Importantly, he knocks down the type of shots that frequently avail themselves to Carolina wings. Robinson is a natural catch-and-shoot guy, not someone who requires dribbles. Thus, as long as UNC continues to play inside-out, he’ll help the offense retain balance between the interior and the perimeter.
I especially appreciate the fact that he’s particularly dangerous from the corners. Most defenders have become lax about contesting that shot, because most players aren’t as comfortable from the side angle.
He also moves well without the ball and should fit nicely into the Tar Heels’ freelance motion.
Meanwhile, his length and slightly above-average athleticism enable him to contribute in other areas as well. Robinson is a long-strider who generally stays on balance and makes positive plays in transition, always an area of emphasis for the Tar Heels. And he’s a surprisingly gifted passer for a player known mostly for his long-range bombs.
While I don’t project him to be a lockdown defender, he should become steady in that regard thanks to his ability to spread out and contest drives and passes. On most occasions he should be able to guard the opponent’s shooting guard or wing forward.
Robinson’s intelligence and instincts also warrant discussion. He makes a lot of “small” plays to retrieve a loose ball or cover for a teammate’s mistake. He’s also entirely committed to the team concept and thus should adjust to that aspect of high-major basketball without trouble.
As one would assume, given the comparison to Manuel, 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.
He also lacks a great first step and may become UNC’s version of a three-and-D player who lacks an in-between or slashing game. He shoots much better when stationary than on the move, and aggressive closeouts from opponents therefore could bother him more than most.
Because UNC’s perimeter battery opted to return for another season in Chapel Hill, Robinson will enjoy the ability to develop at his own pace. He’d love to crack the rotation, of course, and perhaps as a freshman he could earn 8-10 minutes per game.
That said, I think his strength disadvantage places him behind the curve relative to fellow incoming freshman Seventh Woods. His opportunity to play more minutes next season likely will boil down to his three-point shooting, an area the Tar Heels could be thin. Most rookies struggle in that regard their first season, but perhaps Robinson can prove an exception.
In the longer term, I expect he’ll develop into a starting-caliber player for UNC. Maybe it won’t happen prior to his junior year, but assuming he does develop into a reliable shooter there’s little chance he’ll fail to make an impact.
My expectation is that he’ll spend all four years in Chapel Hill, but of course that’s highly speculative. I do think he will enjoy a professional future somewhere, and in the meantime he’s likely to assist the Tar Heels claim multiple victories during his career.