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Should He Stay Or Should He Go Now? Will Jerome Robinson Leave for the NBA?

Our basketball writers break down Jerome Robinson’s decision

Boston College v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Monday we broke down where Jerome Robinson is currently slated to be picked in the NBA Draft, based on NBA Draft projections. This number ultimately will fluctuate based on a number of factors, so we decided to cut through the noise and give our thoughts on whether we think Jerome Robinson will stay or go.

Arthur Bailin: I think the decision is ultimately really, really close, but I actually am leaning towards him staying. In order to get to that point, let’s look at the pros and cons of him staying.


Improving on draft stock: The way that mock drafts are currently constituted, Robinson is currently trending around the late first round/early second round. A lot of this has to do with the depth of the draft: there are some really solid players who are declaring/are expected to declare for the NBA Draft this year. But a lot of it has to do with the relative stature of Robinson currently. To address this, I’m going to use an argument that I’ve seen in the comments: that Robinson has nothing to improve upon in terms of his game. I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but let’s say it is for the sake of this argument. He can still improve upon his draft stock (for next year’s draft) by staying.

First of all, next year’s draft class by all accounts is expected to be weaker. The competition for this year’s draft is stiff, but next year’s draft isn’t expected to be as jam packed with quality options. When we assume the argument that Robinson won’t improve is true, his stock still goes up based on the relative weakness of the draft.

Second of all, the strength of BC’s team will improve overall. BC fans have known for a while how prolific a scorer Robinson has been, but has been a relative secret due to BC’s struggles. BC rarely attracted the collective attention of the greater college basketball world because of their relative weakness. Granted, it is the job of pro scouts (and GM’s) to cut through the noise and find players like Robinson who are on bad teams, and Robinson has been looked at by scouts for a while now. That said, it’s harder to ignore a player like Robinson when he’s playing on a good team, and by all accounts, next year’s team, assuming Robinson stays, is going to be pretty darn good. A strong team with Robinson at the helm is going to be really hard to ignore, and Robinson’s stock will consequently improve.

Finishing What He Started: Everyone remember’s Robinson’s first year at the Heights: it was bad. With players coming and leaving, Robinson has been sort of the one consistency at BC, thus becoming the living breathing personification of the rebuilding process. He has a chance to finish what he started when he came to the Heights, and lead the team to the NCAA Tournament (a thing the Eagles have a legitimate shot at next year), and solidify his status as one of the true greats in Boston College men’s basketball history.

The Team that Drafted Him Might Not Have a Place for Him: One of the teams that might be slated to pick Robinson is the Philadelphia 76ers. Again, this is a projection, and drafts are a volatile thing, but let’s say for the sake of argument that the Sixers do draft him. The Sixers are a playoff team already. Furthermore, the Sixers are already pretty deep at guard. The Sixers already have JJ Reddick and TJ McConnell at the shooting guard position, and it’s going to be hard for Robinson to break into that depth chart. Robinson could also theoretically shift over to the point, but the Sixers have, oh I don’t know, a possible Rookie of the Year in Ben Simmons and last year’s No. 1 pick in Markelle Fultz? Point is, if the only teams that are expressing interest are already deep with guards, it might be an indicator that it’s going to be harder for him to get playing time. A lesser team would not necessarily have this problem, and a higher draft position will remedy that issue.


...But a Team With a Place For Him Might Be Interested: Another team that has been linked to Robinson is the Brooklyn Nets. Again acknowledging that drafts are volatile and are subject to change, let’s use the Nets as an example. The Nets were Bad this year. D’Angelo Russell, the Nets’ current starting shooting guard, has been inconsistent, and the Nets might be in the market for a replacement. Robinson might be that replacement. Again the Nets are kind of a hypothetical team, but they are illustrative: a team with a place for him might be interested, and it is hard not to be intrigued in that case if you’re Robinson.

Money: Another year of not playing professional ball means another year of playing basketball for free. By declaring for the draft, Robinson will be paid to play basketball, and begin to build what looks to be a strong NBA career.

Injury: This is a really depressing thing to think about, but it’s 100% a thing that Robinson should be considering. Serious injuries happen to college athletes looking to be drafted all the time. It could happen to Robinson. If it does happen to Robinson, two big things happen. First, all of the momentum and stature that Robinson has garnered over the past few years goes completely out the window. A players that is sidelined can’t possibly keep up with players that are playing and adding data points, both qualitative and quantitative, to their draft profile. The other is grim: general managers are going to be a lot more bearish on Robinson after a hypothetical serious injury. There are going to be questions about how well he heals, and whether or not he’ll be the same player when he comes back. Point is, a serious injury would be devastating for his career, especially if it happens in college before he gets drafted.

Ultimately, like I said, there’s a pretty convincing argument on both sides. However, I think there’s a pretty solid upside for Robinson staying. The injury argument is compelling, but so is the idea of improving on his draft stock, which he is likely to do by virtue of staying.

Matt O’Neil: I’d love to see him stay, but I don’t think he does. If he gets first round interest, he’s as good as gone.

Basketball Insiders has Robinson going No. 30 overall and Sports Illustrated has him at No. 28 overall, but not every projection has him going in the first round. Plenty of first round mocks leave him off their list, which would push him to the second round, considering he’s got NBA ready game with the ability to score from all three levels. I have to think someone in the mid to late twenties takes a chance on a guy who gave the entire ACC buckets and took on the responsibility of resurrecting the BC program. While there are undoubtedly GM’s that would take younger, riskier guys like Trevon Duval over him, if he gets to the end of the first round and has teams like the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets picking, they could easily choose the more proven Robinson. Duval offers a high, enticing ceiling because of his vertical leap, his defense, and his ability to run an offense, but a guy like Jerome who has transferable skills right now is more valuable to a team picking in the late first round, most of which are playoff teams. Robinson, who’s listed on at 6’6” and 191 pounds, has prototypical NBA two-guard size, shot 48% from the field, 40% from three, and 83% from the free throw line. Even more impressive is the fact that he was sharing touches with a ball dominant point guard in Ky Bowman, which proves that he has microwave scoring ability within the flow of an offense. In addition, his shot making ability involves catch and shoot threes, threes off the dribble, pull up jump shots, and a very instinctive ability to creatively finish around the rim through shot blockers. Those skills all point to someone who will carve out a very solid role as a sixth or seventh man to carry a second unit offensively in the league.

That being said, next year’s class projects to be a lot weaker, with potential for him to play himself into the middle of the first round or even the late lottery. However, with all the risks associated with coming back, I thoroughly expect Robinson to be paid to put the ball in the hoop next year. If he returns, he could get hurt, play poorly, or have attitude issues like Grayson Allen, all of which have limited athletes in the past and hurt their draft stock. Assuming his stock right now is in the Nos. 25-30 range, he could hypothetically improve his stock by about ten picks if he comes back, has a good year, and the class really is weaker next year, but he could also get hurt or not play as well, which would affect his stock in a more negative manner. The only thing that could complicate things is if Jerome wants to finish what he started. He’s done an incredible job of getting BC students interested in BC basketball again and the only thing he has left to accomplish in his illustrious career is to lead the Eagles to the NCAA tournament. If that is something that is important to him, he could be back in maroon and gold next season.

Hoffses: The hottest news item of the offseason for BC hoops is Jerome Robinson’s pending decision to enter the NBA Draft or come back for his senior season. I say JROB comes back.

The first reason I think this is because of all of the uncertainty around the situation. If you ask people around the program on and off the record about what they think JROB will do most people don’t even have an opinion yet. To me that means even JROB isn’t quite sure what he is going to do yet. BC had a similar situation a few years ago when Olivier Hanlan declared for the draft but didn’t hire an agent. In that situation the coaches were very sure he was leaving even though nothing had been made official. If you remember, Hanlan had kind of similar draft projections like Robinson where a handful of people had him as a late first round pick but the majority of mock drafts had him going in the second round. To me that means JROB really wants to make certain that he has a high probability of going in the first round and I just don’t think he is going to get that.

We all watched Robinson last year so some people might be thinking how the heck he isn’t a surefire NBA first-rounder? The easy explanation is that NBA teams draft largely on upside and projections. While Robinson is an exceptional scorer he does have limitations to his athleticism and his defense, which means most NBA teams would rather take a more unpolished product that is younger with more athletic upside.

Speaking of young players with a lot of upside, this draft is full of them. From all indications this is one of the strongest drafts in a while in terms of depth. Most draft experts are saying that next year’s draft is supposed to be a significant tick down in talent. With that in mind wouldn’t Robinson be better off entering a less loaded draft next season with a NCAA Tournament experience under his belt? Couldn’t you see him as “that guy” that blows up during March Madness and upticks his draft stock tenfold? Ultimately JROB will have to decide what is best for him and his family, but I feel the reasons for staying outweigh the seasons for leaving.

Kathryn Bent: It has been said over and over, but I think it really comes down to the feedback Robinson gets over the next six weeks about his draft position. If he is advised that he will likely go in the first round, he should grab the opportunity and take his chances. If it seems that he is likely to be taken in the second round, or if there is any chance he will miss the board entirely, he is better off returning. This first vs. second round might seem like an arbitrary cutoff, but it isn’t; the drop off between first round and second round NBA rookie contracts is substantial. Most importantly, first rounders receive guaranteed two year contracts (with team options for an additional two years) on a set pay scale according to draft order. These guarantees do not extend to second rounders. A player who just misses the first round could also conceivably fail to make the team that drafts him and be out of the league all together. If Jerome finds himself toward the end of the draft, he would do well to play another year at BC and trust that increased national exposure combined with a potentially thinner draft class will propel him higher in the 2019 draft.

The problem is that mock drafts and projections have him hovering right on the cusp right now, late first round to early second round. This makes it hard to predict from the outside what people are telling him and what he might be thinking. If I had to make a guess at this point, I would lean toward putting my money on Jerome going for it in the draft this year. I don’t consider this a pessimistic BC hoops take, but rather an optimistic Jerome Robinson take. I think Jerome likely did enough to play himself into the first round this year. There should be at least one GM in the second half of the first round who would be interested in the ACC’s leading scorer and runner up ACC Player of the Year. Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report both listed Jerome ahead of national champ and Player of the Year Jalen Brunson. Let that sink in.

It would be outstanding for the BC men’s basketball program in the short term if Jerome Robinson returned for his senior year. The team could have a truly special season. But it is better for the program in the long term if Robinson is drafted high. Proving that they can recruit and develop NBA caliber players is one of the most important tools the coaching staff has for bringing in top level talent. This team wants high school players who expect to be in Jerome’s position at this point in his career.

I’m not content with one very good season for BC next year. I want this program to be in a position of sustained success in the ACC, and this is the sort of trade off it will take. If Robinson gets drafted and Bowman plays himself up into the first round next year, it will only help Jim Christian and his staff keep pulling in more and more talented recruiting classes. In an ideal world, this would all happen in another year after Robinson leads the team to a deep postseason run. Either way, though, this is a good problem to have.

Patrick: I don’t want Jerome Robinson to go pro.

But I’m selfish. I sat through a winless conference campaign my freshman year as I watched other schools I might have gone to win their division/conference. I sat through a “not much better” sophomore campaign. Only this year was there finally enough talent and skill on BC to challenge their ACC competitors. I don’t want to move backwards.

That said, Jerome Robinson should probably go pro. At the very least, he’s made the right move by considering it and declaring for the draft. He’s proven himself a capable scorer at all three levels and has elevated his offensive gameplay higher than anything we’ve seen on the Heights since Olivier Hanlan and Reggie Jackson. He’s proven himself a leader on the court as well as in the locker room. He has the accolades to show for it: 1st team All-ACC, ACC Player of the Year, and led the ACC in scoring.

If Jerome comes back, it is because he is determined to complete the resurrection of BC basketball and secure his place as the Eagles’ savior of this generation. He would almost certainly leave the Heights as an all-time legend if he could propel the Eagles to the NCAA tournament next year. If I were in his position, I would like to think that I would come back. But I also know better.

I grew up rooting for the California Golden Bears. In 2015, they signed their greatest all time recruiting class, including two 5-star, top-ten recruits named Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Rabb was a hometown kid who won a California State Championship in Cal’s home gym. Brown was just a friend of his who really liked Cal.

I presume most of BCI’s readers know where Brown is today. Most have likely never heard of Rabb. After Cal bombed out of the first round of the NCAA tournament, Brown declared for the draft. Rabb decided to stay another year and try to resurrect Cal Bears basketball despite being a projected lottery pick. It did not pay off, and though he says he has no regrets, it’s difficult to believe. He slipped into the second round.

Rabb is not the only cautionary tale of players staying a year too long. There is a reason conventional wisdom tells players to “go get their money.” I have no doubt their tales have been repeated to Robinson by some of those in his circle. If a trustworthy source tells him that he will go in the first round, especially top 24, he should go pro. If the mock drafts that keep popping up, having Jerome anywhere from 15-30, he should go pro. It pains me to say it, but he should go pro.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the weakest parts of Robinson’s game will improve this coming year. He lacks awareness sometimes on the defensive side and his defense still needs improving. How much of that is because of Robinson, and how of that is playing nearly 40 minutes per game? Will that improve this year? The addition of two freshmen, Wynston Tabbs and Jairus Hamilton, does not exactly change the dynamic of this team as much as fans will hope it to.

Jerome probably should and probably will go pro. The relationship a player has with a team has to be mutual, give-and-take. There is simply not enough that he can gain by staying another year.