Devin Robinson could be first Florida Gator to test new rule

On Monday Florida Gators basketball head coach Mike White announced that sophomore forward Devin Robinson could test the NBA Draft waters this offseason. The announcement may come as a shock to some, but it’s the right decision for Robinson, and, really, it is the right decision for any college basketball player with NBA Draft dreams.

“I know Devin Robinson had had a chance to go home this weekend so Devin and I will meet this week,” White said Monday. “And of course we have our guys’ back relative to those decisions. We just want them to obtain as much information as they can to make as informed a decision as possible.”

In January the NCAA altered its rules to allow basketball players to declare multiple times (up to three) for the NBA Draft and to participate in the combine and tryout with one team per year. Each player is afforded 10 days after the combine, held May 11-15 in Chicago, to remove their name from the draft and will be eligible to return to school as long as they haven’t hired an agent. How refreshing for a new rule that actually gives the student-athletes more freedom, and affords a new opportunity with really no downside, other side of the coin or any “but.” This is simply a good fait decision by the NCAA, one that would and should greatly affect student-athletes in a positive way.

“I like it, I like the flexibility it gives these young men,” White said. “I think that better decisions will be made because of it.”

It’s a low-to-no risk decision for Robinson. A sophomore, Robinson could declare for the draft and still return to Florida if he doesn’t get invited to the combine, if he is invited but doesn’t have a good workout, or if he gets feedback from scouts and teams that he needs more seasoning at the collegiate level. As long as Robinson doesn’t hire an agent, something he wouldn’t need to do at such an early stage of the game, he’s fine.

The old rule was much more strict. As soon as a college player declared for the NBA Draft that was it. There was no safety net, leaving many underclassmen that declared undrafted, bouncing around in the D-League or heading overseas to continue playing. The rule was strictly an NCAA rule, which meant players from other countries could make themselves eligible for the draft and still pullout as close to 10 days before the draft itself. Not exactly an even playing field.

Robinson appears to be the first player on Florida’s roster that will test out the new rule. In 2015 Robinson, a former five-star recruit averaged nine points per game on 45.8% shooting and 5.6 rebounds per game. Robinson’s size, 6-8, 195 pounds, might be a concern for NBA teams and Robinson has yet to show the physical side defensively that will be asked of him at the next level where he might matchup against guys like LeBron James, but the new rule change will give Robinson, if he chooses to declare, an opportunity to meet with and get real feedback from the same NBA teams that might want to select him in the 2016 NBA Draft.

“He’ll make the best decision. He and his family and people that know him the best, and care about him the most,” White said of Robinson. “I know they sat down this weekend and we’ll support any decision he makes. If it’s his time and that’s what he feels is in his best interest, then we’ll fully support him.”

White did say that he would like to continue coaching Robinson and that he would have a place on the 2016-17 team. Luckily for Robinson, the NCAA made a decision in January that fully supports the student-athlete and will afford him the opportunity to chase his NBA dream with the safety net of being able to return to school and still be eligible. It’s a win-win situation for both the player and the school and Robinson should chase his dream.

The question of whether Robinson’s game is ready for the jump to the next level will be widely debated by fans, and most may agree that he needs to return. That’s what makes the new rule great. Declaring for the draft is no longer an ironclad declaration, rather an exploratory decision. If he finds out that he needs to return to school, Florida will be more than happy to have him back, and the new rule makes all of that possible.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC