A three-year NBA Draft drought is now a four-year NBA Draft drought for the Florida Gators.
This time, that streak of years without an NBA Draft pick came at the expense of Devin Robinson, who was not selected in the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday.
Robinson was widely considered an early second-round selection when he decided to go pro — for the second time, after declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft and then withdrawing his name from consideration after suffering a serious foot injury — after the 2016-17 season, and his slipping out of the draft in a surprising development.
Robinson came to Florida as a stringy shooter with prodigious length for a stretch forward and a ponderous lack of muscle on a frame that seemed built of balsa wood. But his shot — despite a nigh unblockable launch point — did not turn into a consistent weapon for the Gators until he shot just better than 39 percent from three in his junior season, and his shooting percentages on twos and free throws dropped slightly from 2015-16 to 2016-17, countering some of the value of his improvement from beyond the arc.
Still, Robinson still improved significantly from his sophomore to junior seasons under Mike White, especially as a defender. While Robinson still lacks the frame to bang with the best big wings or power forwards in the NBA — think LeBron James — he has gained the strength to hold position in the post and become a fearsome help defender who created several highlight blocks with his incredible leaping ability.
That leaping also makes Robinson a dunker extraordinaire who could excite crowds in whatever city if he can become a fixture off the bench. But it now seems likely that he might do so in the NBA’s developmental G League.
Robinson was vying to be Florida’s first NBA Draft pick since Erik Murphy was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Instead, his snub means the Gators’ four consecutive years without producing an NBA Draft pick is their longest as a program since a six-year stretch between the 1988 selection of Clifford Lett and the 1995 pick of Andrew DeClercq.
Dorian Finney-Smith is the most recent Florida alum to debut with minutes in the regular season of an NBA game, but Finney-Smith went undrafted in 2016, and caught on with the Dallas Mavericks as an undrafted free agent last summer and fall.
Robinson joins Michael Frazier II and Chris Walker, both of whom went undrafted in 2015, among recent Florida early entrants to go undrafted. Both Frazier, who has caught on in Europe, and Walker, who has been in the Houston Rockets’ system with the G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Former Florida seniors Kasey Hill and Justin Leon also went undrafted on Thursday night, but neither was considered a likely selection.