Robinson excited about future at Arkansas

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Saturday, March 28, 2020
Bryant guard Khalen Robinson dribbles during a game against Bentonville on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Bentonville West High School in Centerton.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Bryant guard Khalen Robinson dribbles during a game against Bentonville on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Bentonville West High School in Centerton.

— After a great season at Oak Hill Academy, Arkansas basketball pledge Khalen “KK” Robinson (6-1, 180) is back home in Bryant, ready to sign with the Razorbacks and planning to contribute right away next season for Eric Musselman.

Oak Hill, a basketball prep powerhouse located in Mouth of Wilson, Va., finished 36-3 this season under legendary coach Steve Smith after leading Bryant to the Class 6A state title game the season before.

“We had a great season and I think it was such a great move for me because I got to play against great competition every night and develop my game,” Robinson said earlier this week. “I think I am a better player because of the year at Oak Hill.

The school, which has been on spring break for three weeks due to coronavirus concerns, will resume Monday and finish its academic year via remote delivery over the internet.

“I am back home now,” Robinson said. “It’s been different, but I am staying after it. I have been in the gym three times today. I want to keep everything going.”

He expects to contribute significantly at point guard next season after choosing Arkansas over Kansas, TCU, Illinois, Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and others.

Razorbacks fans got a chance to see him play on ESPN while scoring 24 points in an 84-70 win over Bishop Gorman in the Hoop Hall Classic.

Robinson was 9 of 10 from the field that game, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range on his way to making the All-Tournament team along with teammate and LSU signee Cam Thomas.

“I am just trying to come in and be able to contribute at the highest level every night,” Robinson said. “If I need to facilitate to my teammates one night, score more another night or lock down the other team’s best player, that is what I will do.”

Robinson, ESPN’s 82nd-ranked prospect nationally, believes his year at Oak Hill was also a growth period for him off the court.

“Oak Hill really made me mature faster by being away from my parents and getting through adversity on my own,” Robinson said. “I feel like they matured me a lot and helped me a lot because next year I am going to be almost grown and a young adult."

Robinson is part of a 2020 recruiting class that is ranked sixth nationally, according to ESPN, and includes fellow top-100 players in Davonte Davis (6-4, 175) of Jacksonville and a trio of commitments: North Little Rock and Montverde (Fla.) Academy star Moses Moody (6-6, 190) and Fort Smith Northside forward Jaylin Williams (6-10, 230).

“I think we are all really excited about playing together and playing for Arkansas,” Robinson said. “Coach Musselman and the other coaches did a great job this season and I think we have a bright future.”

The late signing period is slated to open April 15 and go through May 20.

“Nothing is different,” Robinson said. “That is still when I plan to sign.”

Robinson and Moody have played on the same AAU team earlier in their careers and he is eager to be teammates with him again.

“Moses does all the little things,” Robinson said. “He can do the big things, but to me it’s the little things that he does that stand out. He takes charges, he blocks shots, knocks down those corner 3s, talks a lot, brings the energy. Those were things I really loved about him when I was playing with him when we were younger.

“We always fed off each other's energy, dogged it strong on defense and just got after it the whole game.”

Robinson is hoping that next year’s roster also includes current Arkansas stars Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, who announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft on Friday. He could return ti school if he does not like his draft positioning.

“It would be great to play with those guys,” Robinson said. “I think we would all be looking forward to that happening if it does.”

Arkansas, which finished 20-12 this season, will also be adding in a trio of redshirts in Connor Vanover (7-3, 230), JD Notae (6-2, 180) and Abayomi Iyiola (6-9, 210), and possibly two more prospects.

“I really felt like last year’s team was slept on and they really ended up shocking the world almost until they had some injuries,” Robinson said. “I feel like coming in this year that we will have a little more height.

“I have seen the way-too-early rankings and I think one of them has us at No. 14. We have to come in and work to try and prove those people right, that we really can play on that national level and that Arkansas really does have that talent to compete with other states and schools.”

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