Peachtree Hoops continues its 2021 NBA Draft scouting report series with a glance at Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a forward out of Villanova.
Jay Wright and his coaching staff simply know how to coach up and develop players. Recent Villanova Wildcats absolutely litter NBA rosters in the present day. Just this past NBA Finals, each team had a contributer who played under Jay Wright, even if a season-ending injury prevented the matchup between Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a 6’9”, 242-pound sophomore forward who was just named the 2020-21 Co-Big East Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. He finished the season with per 36 minute averages of 16.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, and recorded a shooting triple slash of 57.4/28.0/71.4 of shooting from two, three and the free throw line respectively. While there are questions about his upside, the pliability of his game should earn him a real rotation role this upcoming season for some team.
It’s shocking to see Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s assist total so low because he routinely makes a number of difficult floor reads that lead to buckets. He is a smart, cerebral player and his masterful feel for the game and high basketball IQ are usually on display whenever he’s on the floor. He sees and reads the floor adeptly and can anticipate events before they happen.
Without being overly flashy or a risk taker, Robinson-Earl seems very comfortable with the ball in his hands and making plays for others.
He isn’t a high usage player by any means but he does have excellent ball handling for his size and can get to his spots down low at times. In isolation against a favorable matchup, Robinson-Earl prefers operating with his back to the basket over facing up and is adept at finishing with either hand near the rim.
After screen actions, Robinson-Earl loves to fade toward the baseline and short corner areas, to either receive a lob layup in space or knock down jumpers. He has a good stroke and a solid base for his set shot, and in time may be able to stretch his range to beyond the arc.
The potential as a defensive anchor with a bench unit offers may be the biggest draw for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. He’s a vocal communicator on defense, often directing traffic and calling out plays and defensive actions. He played the four and five, with good enough size and strength for both, even wihtout ideal bounce. Although his foot speed and lateral agility are not elite, he often wins his defensive assignments with positioning, timing and leverage. In this regard, he’s almost never pushed out of the way in the post even if he gives up a few inches to his assignment.
Robinson-Earl is always active and quick to pick up rotations. He uses his hands and strong base to deflect passes and maintain good position without fouling.
The fundamentals of setting screens aren’t lost on Robinson-Earl, and he’ll readily sacrifice his body for the good of the team. His high effort willingness to dive on floor for loose balls will make him a coach’s favorite. His defensive refinement at a young age is extremely impressive, and put together with his hard work on the glass and ability to step out and hit shots, there aren’t a lot major drawbacks to nitpick.
Weaknesses and areas for improvement
What really depresses Robinson-Earl’s draft stock is the obvious upside. His physical measurables — a 6’9.75” wingspan and a 8’9.5” standing reach — are negatives and his athletic profile — just a 32 inch max vertical — isn’t anything that will pop off the screen. Very much a below-the-rim big man on both ends, there is worry he won’t be able to contend as well against better athletes at the next level.
Not a quick twitch athlete nor is he very explosive, he doesn’t protect the rim from the weakside, and he recorded fewer than one block per 36 minutes this past season despite playing a drop center-type of role defensively.
Robinson-Earl can get beaten with speed from smaller, shiftier guys. Switching him on the perimeter is a risk, even if he usually holds his own in short spans. As a swing big man, the versatility to play both the four and five is there but he may not excel at either.
Despite a good midrange game and solid shooting motion, he shot just 28% from three on 3.3 attempts per game. The lift from that far out isn’t quite there, and he shot a lot of flat trajectory shots from three-point land. That extended range could come in time, but without it, it may be difficult to find buckets from him without an alley oop threat above the rim.
His lack of wiggle in his handle to create space for a pull up shot is another factor that caps his potential. You’ll see him turn down threes or any type of contested shot outside of the paint to get to his bread and butter post up game. But that overreliance can end up being a detriment and predictable for opponents.
While he’ll dazzle with the occasional cross-court pass and dive for cuts when the defense relaxes, it’s hard to see offensively where he can thrive at the next level. Still, in two seasons in the tough Big East Conference, Robinson-Earl feasted on competition with his competitive drive and work ethic, so certainly development in his game can happen. And at the age of 20, he’s still young enough to add those layers to his game to carve out a solid role in the NBA.
Possible fit with the Atlanta Hawks
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s fit on the Hawks would be a little hard to see. They could use him in a screen and short roll area or let him stretch the floor a bit at the power forward position. But it seems like there wouldn’t be a ton of minutes for a guy who can’t flair out to the wing.
He profiles as a high floor, low ceiling type of prospect. Look for him to come off the board late in the first round or early in the second. But using the 20th overall pick on Robinson-Earl doesn’t make a ton of sense for a team that wants their bigs to either space the floor beyond the arc or protect the rim at a high level, and the Wildcat offers neither at present timing. But if there’s anything to take away from Villanova products, it’s likely he’ll make for a productive player over a NBA long career.