Jeremiah Robinson-Earl possesses many of the skills that coaches appreciate, like his ability to rebound and defend all five positions on the basketball court, his knack for being a passer and decision-maker, his footwork, and his moves around the basket.
But it’s the little things that have gotten Robinson-Earl, the former Villanova All-American who will wait to hear his name called Thursday night in the NBA draft, a lot of attention during his workouts for NBA teams.
“A lot of the players and even coaches mess around with me like, ‘Oh, that Villanova jump stop. I’ve seen that before,’ just the little stop,” he said Thursday in a telephone interview from Chicago, where he will follow the draft.
“It’s being able to pass it correctly, being able to catch the ball on the seams. There’s so many little things that add to the team success. I feel like they really help you with that at ‘Nova. But being able to keep you in the now instead of telling you, ‘Oh, this is going to work in the future,’ I feel like Villanova really does prepare you for all these type of workouts and being able to be prepared for the NBA right away as a rookie.”
The versatile 6-foot-9 Robinson-Earl, who was even utilized as a point guard by coach Jay Wright late in the season after teammate Collin Gillespie went down with a torn knee ligament, enters draft night with an outside chance of being picked late in the first round but more like in the early to mid-second round.
He is seeking to become the 10th Wildcat on an NBA roster and extend the program’s streak to five years with at least one player drafted.
He prides himself on someone who “stays in the now” and enjoys the moment, but he admits the feeling may be a little different Thursday night.
“I know when that event is going to happen, it’s going to hit me,” he said. “I’ll probably be nervous, get butterflies, but I think it’s good to have that because it shows that you really care about what’s going on. So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun [Thursday] night.”
Robinson-Earl worked out for “14 or 15 teams,” he said, including the 76ers. He said many of the workouts involved six players.
“We did some skill work, played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, and then shot at the end,” he said. “They were probably like an hour, 15 minutes, just good, quick workouts being able to get a lot of work in that short time, being able to compete at a high level.”
Robinson-Earl, 20, averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds last season as a sophomore for a Villanova team that finished 18-7 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16. He was named co-player of the year in the Big East and a third-team All-American by the Sporting News.
He struggled from three-point range last season, shooting just 28% but has worked diligently throughout the spring and summer to improve. He said he worked on his “catch-and-shoot” three-pointers from the NBA lines for the first two weeks of his personal predraft workouts.
“Once you get adjusted to the line, then you can add in a lot of different types of moves or just ways to play the game,” he said. “So I feel that shooting and more perimeter play, ballhandling, doing those things I might not be as comfortable with but making them second nature.
“I know if I miss three or four in a row, I know how to adjust my own shot without somebody being there to tell me what I need to do. I just feel like now I’ve built those mechanics and those habits at Villanova. So now it’s just being able to see that ball go in on a consistent basis.”
During the draft process, Robinson-Earl spoke with a couple of Villanova’s NBA players. He said the biggest piece of advice was “just keep being you.”
“You don’t have to go into these workouts trying to be something you’re not,” he said, “because obviously if you’re in this situation, then what you do best has gotten you there. So the thing is to continue being you but also getting better every single day.”