Mitchell Robinson never wanted to go to Western Kentucky. I know this not because he told me -- but because no consensus top-10 college basketball prospect in history has ever wanted to go to Western Kentucky.
This wasn't Derrick Rose enrolling at Memphis.
Yes, Memphis was a Conference USA school then just like Western Kentucky is a C-USA school now. But when Rose enrolled at Memphis, he was walking into a situation where seven of the top eight scorers were returning from a 33-win team that had just advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and was coached by a future Hall of Famer. So Rose's decision was logical. It maximized his basketball possibilities -- proof being how he ended up as the starting point guard for a 38-win team that was a split-second away from winning the national title. He then became the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.
Robinson's decision always made way less sense.
He wasn't joining a national brand like Memphis. Or a winning team like Memphis. Or a program run by a future Hall of Fame coach like John Calipari. He was joining a program that went 15-17 last season and has advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament only once in the past two decades. Which is not to suggest Western Kentucky isn't a fine mid-major program. Because it is. I like the Hilltoppers. (Go Hilltoppers!) But let's level with each other. It's not a place top-10 prospects go.
That's my point.
So why in the world did Robinson ever enroll at WKU?
I'll leave rumors and speculation to others (if only because I think it's wildly unfair to make public allegations without proof) and just focus on the facts: Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury hired Robinson's godfather, Shammond Williams, as an assistant in June 2016. A couple of weeks later, Robinson committed to the Hilltoppers. Then Robinson signed a national letter of intent last November and enrolled in July. But, still, he never really wanted to be there. And he finally realized as much two weeks after enrolling, at which point he left campus, asked for a release and started visiting other schools, his eligibility tattered.
Now Robinson is unlikely to ever play college basketball.
That's according to a report from Yahoo Sports -- and because it was always extremely unlikely the NCAA would grant him a waiver to play this season given he had already enrolled at, and practiced with, Western Kentucky. Robinson seems to understand this now. So his new plan is to simply spend the year working out and preparing for the 2018 NBA Draft.
Which is fine.
I suppose he'll be fine.
But Robinson never wanted nor needed to be in this position. And there's probably a lesson here for the next batch of one-and-done prospects, and the lesson is this: Don't be so shortsighted.
We now have two one-and-done prospects in the past three years -- Mitchell Robinson and Ben Simmons -- who enrolled at schools they never even would have considered under normal circumstances, and the results have been depressing. As you probably know, Simmons never really wanted to play at LSU. He went there only because LSU coach Johnny Jones hired his godfather, David Patrick. So Simmons followed his godfather, enrolled and posted nice stats for a 19-14 team that missed the NCAA Tournament.
And do you think he enjoyed himself?
I watched the documentary. Sure didn't look like it.
Regardless, Mitchell Robinson followed the same path.
He enrolled at a school he never even would have considered under normal circumstances because the school hired somebody close to him -- and now he's already withdrawn. Consequently, he'll never play on Big Monday. Or Super Tuesday. Or in a Saturday afternoon game on CBS. Or in the NCAA Tournament. Or in a college basketball game at all.
He'll still make a lot of money someday, I guess.
But this will forever be looked upon as a blunder. Which is why all future one-and-done prospects should learn from Simmons' and Robinson's mistakes and remember the following: If you know you're only going to spend one year in college, don't worry about where your godfather or uncle or brother may be employed. It doesn't matter. Instead, just focus on finding the best basketball situation for you to spend one season, enroll there, win a lot, have fun and then enter the NBA Draft with good memories.
It's really pretty simple.
You're likely not going to be in school long. So make the most of it by eliminating outside influences -- and by just making the best basketball decision for you. Do not worry about anything other than finding the best basketball situation for you.
Ben Simmons didn't do that.
So his college experience was a waste.
Mitchell Robinson didn't do that.
And now his college experience is nonexistent.