Mitchell Robinson returns to WKU one month after leaving

WKU freshman center Mitchell Robinson (23) scores a basket for Chalmette High School in a game against Ballard High School on Sat. Feb. 11, 2017 at Bowling Green High School.  

It looks like the Mitchell Robinson saga has come full circle. Robinson is expected to return to the WKU basketball program for the 2017-18 season, as Chad Bishop of WBKO first reported Sunday morning. Rumors and reports in college hoops circles had been circulating that Robinson was mulling sitting out the upcoming season before yet another dramatic change of events in his recruitment led to his return to campus on Monday.

Robinson had until 4 p.m. Monday afternoon to register for classes as an undergraduate for the fall semester. He was identified as a registered student on the WKU online student database around 9 a.m. Monday.

Barring any unforeseen restrictions by the school or the NCAA, Robinson would be eligible to play this season for the Hilltoppers.

“I’ve said it many times – Mitchell is a good kid who can benefit greatly from the structure and accountability provided to him here,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Robinson also commented on the whole process in the statement.

“I’ve learned from some decisions I’ve made in my life,” Robinson said. “I accept all responsibility for my actions and look forward to gaining back the respect of all of my coaches, teammates and fans. This is where I want to be, and I want to help the Hilltoppers compete for a championship.”

Robinson never transferred to another school after being released from his athletic scholarship at WKU, therefore he’ll be immediately eligible to practice and play for WKU from an NCAA standpoint this season.

After committing to WKU and joining the team this summer, the 5-star player departed from campus and the basketball program on July 26. He was then suspended indefinitely by head coach Rick Stansbury on July 31.

“You know it’s probably just as much a surprise to me as it was you, when I found out he wasn’t here,” Stansbury said at an Aug. 4 press conference. “But like I said, per my statement, Mitchell’s a good kid, he was doing fine here. But for whatever reasons, he’s no longer here. As I said, he would benefit from structure, and he was doing fine.”

Robinson has not given insight as to why he left campus, although it’s believed by many that the resignation of former WKU assistant coach and Robinson’s godfather, Shammond Williams had something to do with it. It’s important to note that Robinson enrolled in summer classes, took financial aid and practiced with the team after Williams resigned.

“There was really no questions anywhere,”Stansbury said on Aug. 4. “I guess there was a few questions that got brought up a month or so ago when Shammond left. That’s probably the first questions that ever got brought up. But it’s very obvious that he came on to school.

“I can’t say that. I can’t say that,” Stansbury continued when asked if he thought Williams’ absence had anything to do with Robinson’s departure. “When [Williams] left, he said he wanted to pursue other opportunities and avenues in his life, whether it’s coaching or not. I don’t know where that is, but that’s what I was told.”

It’s also worth noting that another relationship of Robinson’s, his relationship with Stansbury, is what got him to WKU in the first place. The seven-footer was originally committed to Texas A&M, where Stansbury was an assistant coach. Stansbury was able to get him to flip his commitment once he became WKU’s head coach.

After the two sides talked, Stansbury granted Robinson’s release from the team on Aug. 1, allowing him to enroll elsewhere for the academic year. An NCAA waiver would still have been needed for him to play basketball for another school this season.

“We had a very brief conversation that was on the phone, and that was about it,” Stansbury said three days after he released Robinson from his scholarship.

Robinson then took visits to Louisiana State University, the University of Kansas and the University of New Orleans. After the visits, he considered sitting out and preparing for the 2018 NBA Draft instead of playing college basketball at all.

That deliberation lasted about a week, with several different reports coming out claiming a variety of possible outcomes. Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports said Robinson was leaning toward sitting out, while Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog said on Aug. 22 that Robinson was down to Kansas and WKU.

It is unclear at the time of publication whether or not Robinson will still have to serve his indefinite suspension, or how long that will last.

“As I stated previously, there are requirements for his return that will be handled internally,” Stansbury said in the statement.

Reporters Jeremy Chisenhall and Evan Heichelbech can be reached at 270-745-56291 and [email protected] Follow the Herald Sports coverage on Twitter at