Florida junior forward Devin Robinson had an interesting offseason, to say the least.
First, the 6-foot-8 Chesterfield, Va., native, surprised some in college basketball circles by announcing he was going to put his name in the NBA draft. But a few weeks later, Robinson had a recurring foot problem checked.
It turned out, Robinson had a stress fracture in his foot that he played through last March. Robinson opted for surgery in late April, returned to school, and was limited in summer workouts. But Robinson said he’s at about “95 percent” heading into this month’s practices.
“Slowly getting back in there,” Robinson said at UF basketball media day. “Duke (UF basketball trainer Dave Werner) has to sometimes hold me out of some of the stuff we’re doing in practice because I want to go so bad. But you know, we’ve got to start out slow and work our way up. I’m pretty good right now.”
Robinson remains the UF basketball player with the highest upside because of his combination of size, skill level and athletic ability. But consistency has been the biggest issue in his first two years on campus. Robinson found that out for himself when he received feedback from NBA scouts during his brief flirtation with entering the draft.
“They just said I need to be more consistent throughout games,” Robinson said. “Some games, I’ll have a great game, have a double-double, do this and that, and then the next game I’ll play someone inferior to us and you wouldn’t even know I was on the court. So just be consistent on the court, play hard, make sure the team wins, be a leader.”
Robinson faces an interesting position battle, vying for one of the two starting forward spots with graduate transfer Canyon Barry, senior forward Justin Leon and redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone. Florida coach Mike White also hasn’t ruled out playing junior center John Egbunu and sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes across the frontline together at times.
Last season, Robinson started 18 of 36 games, averaging 9 points and 5.6 rebounds. Robinson’s rebounding numbers improved as a sophomore , but after bruising his chest in UF’s SEC opener against Georgia, was more hesitant to mix it up inside and follow his own shot. Robinson lost his starting job to Leon in January but regained it later in the season.
If there was a positive to Robinson’s foot injury, it allowed him to focus on building his upper body over the summer. He’s up to 200 pounds after arriving on campus at 176 pounds as a freshman.
“I’ve put on some pounds and I can see it in the games, in practice already,” Robinson said. “I’m driving to the basket, I’m boxing out for rebounds, it makes the game a lot easier. I have to go through that to become a better player.”
Robinson said the rehabilitation process has been tough, but that in the long run, the injury might be a blessing. Had Robinson been healthy, he may have tried to keep his name in the NBA draft and take a gamble on his future.
“Everything happens for a reason and I really think there’s a reason for me discovering I was hurt,” Robinson said. “I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of things in my years since I’ve been here. I haven’t been to a (NCAA) tournament yet. I haven’t won an SEC championship yet. So I think I’ve left some things here, some unfinished business I need to take care of.”