Fresno State has sent several players into the NBA over the last decade. Former Bulldogs Paul George, Tyler Johnson and Paul Watson currently reside on NBA rosters.
Orlando Robinson could be next in line.
The sophomore big man declared for the NBA Draft Thursday night, announcing his decision with an Instagram post.
“My first two seasons at Fresno State, I have been diligent at working to improve all facets of my game,” the post read. “In an effort to get even more experiences and feedback from NBA teams, I have decided to enter my name into the NBA draft and participate in workouts, but not hire an agent.”
Robinson will take advantage of a 2016 NCAA eligibility rule change that allows underclassmen to withdraw from the draft process in late May, five weeks after the previous deadline, so long as the athlete does not hire an agent or sign a professional contract.
He has until July 7 to make a decision between committing to the NBA Draft or returning to Fresno State for his junior season.
Until then, Robinson will test the NBA waters without risk of jeopardizing his future with the Bulldogs.
“Orlando is a real hard-worker,” head coach Justin Hutson said in a tweet. “We support him in these endeavors as he continues to be evaluated by NBA teams.”
Robinson has started all 54 games he’s played in as a Bulldog and led the team in scoring for both of his seasons. He averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the 2020-21 season, with his rebounding mark good for third in the Mountain West.
Robinson’s rebounding ability also helped him record 11 double-doubles on the season, good for second-most in the conference.
Yet another element to the 7-foot forward’s game — long-range shooting — makes him an intriguing draft prospect. Over the Bulldogs first 10 games last season, Robinson shot 47% (8-for-17) from 3-point range.
Robinson received attention from national media outlets as an NBA prospect during his sophomore year. In January, he was named in Bleacher Report’s “Under-The-Radar 2021 NBA Draft Prospects,” a list of 10 college basketball players that included Utah State center Neemias Queta and Boise State forward Derrick Alston Jr.
For comparison, Queta has already declared for the draft and Alston Jr., who declared for the draft last year before playing his senior season, has done the same.
Recent mock drafts do not have Robinson drafted in the first or second round of the 2021 NBA draft. But in February of 2020, he was projected to be a late first-round 2021 draft pick.
This is the second straight offseason where a Bulldog declared for the NBA Draft. Niven Hart put his name in consideration for the draft after the 2019-20 season. Despite not starting a game his freshman year, Hart hired an agent last July and forgoed his remaining three years with Fresno State.
He was not drafted in the 2020 draft that November.
Robinson, however, expressed in his Instagram post a desire to improve this offseason in preparation for another Bulldog basketball season.
“I appreciate all of the support from my coaches, teammates and the Red Wave, as we are building something special and putting in the necessary work this offseason to be ready to go every night,” he wrote.