Fifteen months ago, nobody had ever heard of Devin Robinson. The then-Virginia high school junior didn't have a single basketball scholarship offer.
Robinson, then a member of the 2013 class, attended Manchester High School in Chesterfield (Va.), and his family knew they had to do something to get people to notice him. Kids without an offer after their junior year rarely ever end up playing big-time college basketball.
Robinson reclassified to the 2014 class and transferred to Christchurch School for his final two years of high school, hoping the extra year would help him develop to the point where he could earn offers.
That move changed everything.
"I think he's always been a good player," said Christchurch coach Ben Thompson. "What's helped him this summer is his AAU director, Tony Squire, has been really instrumental in some of his development and helping put him in the right places at the right times."
Squire runs the Squires Richmond AAU program, and he has coached players such as Kevin Garnett in his 20-plus year career. Squire saw something in Robinson, and developed a plan to get him in front of the right people.
Squire thought Robinson had the ability, but maybe not the exposure.
"His AAU program is not a sponsored program, but Tony's been able to find some people to help them get to these camps and showcase his talent," Thompson said. "I think he's always been a really good player. He's just flown under the radar."
Robinson, a 6-foot-8 small forward, got some opportunities this summer to play against some of the top players in the country and in front of the college coaches that could offer him an opportunity to play at the next level.
Robinson was at NBA Top 100 Camp in June, but he was still ranked outside the top 100 at the time. He showed there, and at other events, that he has perhaps the most upside of anyone in the 2014 class.
"Devin's always been versatile," Thompson said. "What I've seen him do over the last few months is try to be a more complete player, put the ball on the floor, mixing it up in that way. And then defensively, he's been working on trying to guard people on the ball and still rebounding like he always does well."
Robinson, a four-star talent, is now the No. 27 player in his class, and he's become one of Indiana's top targets since June. Robinson has narrowed his list to five -- Indiana, Florida, Connecticut, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame -- and will take an official visit to Bloomington for Hoosier Hysteria Oct. 4.
"They're really aggressive with him and trying to get a feel for what kind of kid he is," Thompson said of the Indiana coaching staff. "I think coach [Tom] Crean and coach [Kenny] Johnson are in contact with him and his family a great deal. I think they're very aggressive and it seems like they have a good relationship."
Robinson went from an unknown prospect to one of the nation's hottest recruits virtually overnight. The attention he's received from around the country has proven to be intoxicating for some kids, but Thompson says it hasn't changed Robinson.
"I think he's handled it quite well, to be honest with you," Thompson said. "What I've noticed since he's been back on campus is that he's the same old Devin. I don't think he's let all the publicity and everything change him. He's not let himself get too high. I think the attention has been overwhelming for him and his family at times, but I think he's handled it the best that he can."
Robinson may have the most upside in the class, but he hasn't yet realized all of that ability. Our Brian Snow said Robinson didn't receive five-star status because the Scout.com recruiting team didn't know if he would ever be as good as he could be.
He’s as naturally talented as virtually anybody in this class," Snow said. "Needs to get tougher. To me, he’s best as a power forward in the Christian Watford type role. He has to embrace that by rebounding better, but he’s athletic, he’s skilled and he’s big. But some of those advantages are mitigated when he plays against a smaller player, and when that happens, Devin has to take advantage of that by rebounding.
"He’s a high-upside kid but he’s also a fairly low floor, but he has a ton of natural ability. He just has to put it all together."
Thompson agrees with many of the areas in which Robinson must improve before he steps foot on a college campus. Thompson said he will give Robinson every opportunity to work on his weaknesses during the upcoming high school season.
"He's gonna have to get stronger. He's gonna work on that, obviously," Thompson said. "The other thing he's gonna be focused on is becoming a complete wing. I think his ball handling has to improve. He's gonna work on that in the fall leading into the season, and then we're gonna put the ball in his hands so he can be comfortable doing that."
Thompson said Robinson will visit all five of his finalists and that he would like to decide by November. With all the new attention surrounding him after his rare rise to the top of recruiting boards, that may be an ideal option.
"Realistically, in his mind I bet he would like to get it done earlier than later just so he can focus on being a senior and all that other stuff," Thompson said. "If he feels like he's comfortable, I think he would sign early and maybe stop all the madness that occurs with the recruiting cycle right now."