Robinson-Earl Selected in 2021 NBA Draft


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Robinson-Earl had 12 rebounds in his final game as a Wildcat.

Anders Pryor, Staff Writer

Former Villanova power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was selected 32nd overall in the 2021 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. Through a series of draft night trades, the draft rights to the pick that was used to select Robinson-Earl was granted to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for future picks and salary flexibility for New York, sending Robinson-Earl down to join the Thunder’s young core.

“I was excited,” Robinson-Earl said in an interview with “Knowing that a team traded up to get me and knowing that they really wanted me means a lot. I was ready to give it all back to them and for them to know that it was worth doing all that.”

Robinson-Earl is now the eighth Villanova Wildcat to be drafted to the NBA in the past five seasons, joining Josh Hart, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, Jalen Brunson, Eric Paschall and Saddiq Bey.

After entering Villanova as a five-star recruit, Robinson-Earl’s transition to the NBA was inevitable, as many believed he would have been a “one and done” prospect and gone after a single year. Yet like so many greats that have played under Jay Wright, he decided to stay for another year after his freshman season to further develop within the Villanova system. Robinson-Earl received workouts and interest from many other teams, including the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.

Robinson-Earl was credited at the NBA Draft Combine for his versatility on the defensive end, his quick first step and his ability to be active in transition schemes. At 6’9”, Robinson-Earl has the ideal frame to guard multiple positions. The league has developed into a movement of big men being able to space the floor, shoot threes and move off the ball the same way guards can, and Robinson-Earl has demonstrated both the ability to shoot the three when needed down the stretch, while still relying on foot pivot and pump fakes, as seen with more traditional power forwards.

Robinson-Earl joins an Oklahoma City team in total rebuild mode as the Thunder look to develop a young core instead of searching for immediate success. Over the past couple of seasons, OKC General Manager Sam Presti has conducted multiple trades to acquire a historically high number of first-round draft picks, with more than 15 picks in the next five years. The goal is to “hit” on as many of those picks as possible to build an athletic and dynamic group of players to go around their star young talent, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, while saving long-term cap flexibility for the future.

Robinson-Earl was one of four players selected by the Thunder in this year’s draft, alongside first round picks Josh Giddey and Tre Mann and fellow second-rounder Aaron Wiggins. During the NBA Summer League, a traditional showcase for draftees, Robinson-Earl led the Thunder with 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, showing out a balanced statistical performance that is reflective of the kind he put on while on the Main Line.

Robinson-Earl will make his NBA debut on Oct. 20 in Salt Lake City when the Thunder take on the Jazz.