7-FT Transfer, Liam Robbins is the Commit Pitino Desperately Needed… and He’ll Likely Play Next Season

Liam Robbins stands for a photo at Drake Men's Basketball media day Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

Last night, the Minnesota Gophers basketball team got a commitment from Liam Robbins, a 7-FT tall transfer portal big man. Robbins was a Sophomore at Drake last season, where he averaged — 14.1 PTS | 7.1 REB | 2.9 BLK — per game. He’s NOT a graduate transfer and will have to sit a year unless current rules change or he is granted a waiver of immediate eligibility… but I do expect one or the other, for Liam (more on that later).

Robbins’ stats are pretty impressive at Drake. They are better than guys like Reggie Lynch (both went to Missouri Valley schools), before he transferred in. On the opposite side of the spectrum, his stats are more comparable to Alihan Demir… who was an absolute disaster last year, after graduate transferring from Drexel for his senior season.

However, if you look at the experts around the country, who track talent around college basketball for profit and have seen Robbins play… then Richard Pitino just landed the transfer portal equivalent to a 30” walleye while fishing on Mille Lacs.

Both Jeff Goodman (Stadium) and Evan Daniels (247Sports) had a lot to say last night, about the new Golden Gopher. Both tweeted about the pickup and both furthered their praise, in written pieces too.

1) Liam Robbins, 7-0, 240, C, Soph., Drake

Stats: 14.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg

Scout’s take: “Legit 7-footer who really runs. Has great touch and scores in post. Good range. Rim protector. Has a chance to be an NBA player.”


Jeff Goodman – Stadium – Top Transfers: Potential Sit-Outs

One of the most unique late bloomer stories in college basketball this season, Robbins’ trajectory has been extreme and there is every reason to believe he will continue to get better.

Robbins is an outstanding pickup for Richard Pitino and the Golden Gophers staff.

Evan Daniels – 247Sports: Evaluating Drake Transfer Liam Robbins

This is a massive commit. I went through his tape earlier today. Big kid with a really impressive skill set. One of best transfers of the offseason.

Evan Daniels – 247Sports – GopherIllustrated.com Board Comment

Those are two of the most-trusted national basketball talent evaluators, as far as media is concerned, in all of college basketball. Sitting at the top of that transfer portal ranking by Goodman, absolutely blew my mind.

The best schools in the country are salivating over DJ Carton (transferring from Ohio State) and Kevin Nolley (transferring from Virginia Tech)… Goodman has Nolley ranked #2 and Carton #4. Everyone sits behind Robbins, who again, heads the entire list. Nebraska canceled their social distancing measures to celebrate the transfer portal commitments of Trey McGowens (Pitt) and Kobe King (Wisconsin). They rank #11 and #12 on Goodman’s list, respectively.

Robbins only entered the transfer portal a few days ago, before quickly pulling the trigger on Minnesota. When you dig a little bit deeper, the commitment makes a lot of sense. He’s from Iowa and has family all over the area. His uncle is Gophers’ Assistant Coach, Ed Conroy, who just got a promotion this weekend, to Associate Head Coach.

That is also why I believe Liam plays next season, even though he’s not eligible right now. The NCAA was supposed to make a decision on a one-time transfer rule, that would allow every student athlete to transfer once during their career without the penalty of sitting out for a season. That vote might get delayed, but many still expect it to pass for basketball, either way.

Even if it doesn’t (or it doesn’t go into effect next season), Minnesota and Robbins plan on submitting a waiver request for immediate eligibility. The case is likely to be built around a need to be back with family, in this new and unknown age of Coronavirus. I can’t see that waiver getting denied, once this nightmare of a disease is considered over.

Pitino needs quality talent in the post so badly next season, that I don’t know if he could even afford to take Robbins, if his eligibility for next season were under serious question…

I’m excited to see what Robbins can do. Somebody made a 15-minute highlight mix-tape of only blocks (embedded below this paragraph). His defensive awareness is extremely impressive. He guards and moves REALLY well on the perimeter, for his size.

The limited other video I found showed raw talent on offense but he does look pretty comfortable shooting from the mid-range, which I didn’t expect.

If he can add more tenacity on the rebounding side of things, while fine-tuning his offensive game over the next two seasons… Robbins could be a force that really eases the anxiety of fans panicking about the loss of Oturu.

Pitino still has one scholarship left for 2020. He desperately wants Kerwin Walton (just like the rest of us). I would be surprised if he lands him… but that could just be my pessimistic side because others are more confident than I am. Walton plans to announce this month, so we won’t have to wait much longer.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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