Earlier this week, five-star prospect in the 2019 class, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, committed to play for the Villanova Wildcats over the Kansas Jayhawks.
Robinson-Earl is well known to many Kansas fans because his father is Lester Earl – a forward who played at KU from 1997 to 2000. The No. 10 ranked prospect (according to Rivals.com) also played high school basketball at nearby Bishop Miege High School until earlier this year when he transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior season.
It was no secret that Robinson-Earl was high on KU’s wish list. Bill Self and his staff put a lot of time and effort into his recruitment and he was one of several recruits in attendance for Late Night in the Phog this year.
The sights and sounds of Late Night that has captured the hearts of several recruits in years past apparently was not enough to sway him.
Losing out on a recruiting battle to the defending national champs is nothing to be ashamed of, but due to Robinson-Earl’s family connection with KU and him growing up 45 minutes away from campus, it begs the question: did the FBI trial news play a role in his decision?
Back in May of this year, Kansas lost a highly contested battle for current Indiana guard Romeo Langford and his dad admitted that the FBI investigation decimated their chances.
In May, Rivals’ top-ranked player Vernon Carey cut KU from his final five.
In late September, top-10 PF Jaden McDaniels left KU out of his top five. Then just a few days ago, five-star point guard Cole Anthony – son of CBS analyst Greg Anthony – released his top six which also did not include KU.
Other than Langford, there’s no way of truly knowing if the FBI trial impacted these recruits’ decisions, but when you’re Kansas and you aren’t even making the top five of a lot of these kids’ lists then that raises concern.
During the Q&A portion following his statement on the FBI trial, Bill Self spoke about the challenge the FBI investigation has presented when it comes to recruiting.
“I would say that it hasn’t helped by any stretch, and there’s been a lot more explaining that you try to do concerning what’s transpired in New York,” Self said. “I think it does put you in a situation where you need to explain and it’s been hard because we haven’t been able to explain.”
Despite the negative attention regarding the trial, KU has managed to secure two commitments for the class of 2019: four-star guards Christian Braun and Issac McBride, ranked 112 and 109 respectively according to Rivals.
KU now sets their sights on Matthew Hurt, Precious Achiuwa, and others to replace what could be up to five players depending on what happens with Silvio De Sousa and who leaves early for the 2019 NBA Draft.