Jaxson Robinson's next step might not be the NBA

Rumors are spreading about the BYU swingman's future.
Jaxson Robinson's press conference following what may be his final NCAA basketball appearance
Jaxson Robinson's press conference following what may be his final NCAA basketball appearance / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Jaxson Robinson's career has been filled with uncertainty. He's played for three different universities during his college hoops days, only finding a rhythm in his senior season at BYU which saw him taking a bench role for Mark Pope's squad.

Though he was a late-bloomer, Robinson's age didn't dissuade experts from buzzing about his draft potential early into the season, with some even slotting the sweet-shooting wing as a late first-round pick. During BYU's pre-conference schedule, Robinson showed everything NBA scouts wanted in a player of his archetype: a quick release and soft shooting touch from beyond the arc and the ability to knock down jumpers at a high clip.

Jaxon Robinson
Robinson holds his follow through after a made basket against Duquesne / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Predictably, however, the challenge of Big 12 Conference competition brought the Cougars back down to Earth a bit. Robinson's shooting numbers were still promising, but his percentage dropped from above 40% to around 35% from 3. Pope's offense relied on launching 3s at a high volume--shooting more 3s than 2s over the season--and most players see their efficiency dip when emphasizing quantity. This was the case with Robinson.

Despite this dip, Robinson still saw himself with a glimmer of hope to be drafted. His heroic second-half effort against Duquesne and hot shooting against Texas Tech in the conference tournament likely aided his draft stock, but as one of the oldest prospects in this year's draft class, Robinson would need a strong NBA Combine showing to comfortably lock himself into the second round.

Much like Homer Simpson disappearing into the bushes, Robinson's NBA Combine saw him blending into the crowd. His smooth shooting form was on full display, but was the only noteworthy aspect of his skillset.

CBS Sports' Kyle Boone suggests that Robinson would be better returning for his final year of college eligibility after his mediocre outing in the combine, stating: "he showed off his smooth shooting stroke but by and large blended into the crowd elsewhere during the week in Chicago. Legitimately tough decision to return to school and challenge to be an All-Conference player or hope to scoot into the second round and secure some guaranteed deal."

NBA Draft Combine
Jaxson Robinson at the NBA Draft Combine / Anadolu/GettyImages

Experts everywhere have tied Robinson to Pope's Kentucky Wildcats should he withdraw from the draft, and it doesn't take a psychic to look into Robinson's mind to understand why. Pope's offensive system in Provo put a focus on shoot-from-the-hip, run-and-gun offense. A "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality helped give BYU an edge against longer, quicker, and more athletic teams. Robinson thrived as a byproduct of the Cougars' eagerness to fire from long range.

A season at Kentucky would push Robinson into the forefront of college basketball's spotlight, and could help cement himself as a legitimate NBA-level prospect. Should Robinson build from his success at BYU, a good season in Lexington is often enough to draw the eyes of NBA scouts.

We shouldn't rush to discount a return to BYU, though. After all, Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall decided to return to Provo after buying into Kevin Young's vision of the program's future. Young is building his team at BYU to become a launchpad for players to reach the NBA. If Robinson decides to return to college with improving his NBA stock at the forefront of his mind, BYU could be a great option.

Robinson has until the 29th of May to withdraw from the draft, or lock himself into the field with fingers crossed that he hears his name called at the tail end of the second round. Keep your eyes open for his decision in the coming days.

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