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UK’s Robinson explains earlier change of heart

Vaught’s Views



Thanks to former UK All- American punter Max Duffy and his “Pin It Deep” podcast, receiver Wan’Dale Robinson finally confirmed why he initially committed to playing football for Kentucky and then flipped to Nebraska before signing day. He then spent two years at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky where he has 29 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns in five games this season, including a 41-yard dazzling touchdown catch in last week’s 20-13 win over Florida.

The former Western Hills star from Frankfort was down to Kentucky and Nebraska when he committed to UK even though it had seemed to me and others that he was more enamored with Scott Frost’s offense at Nebraska than he was UK’s run-oriented offense.

“Halloween comes and me, my dad, and my trainer were on the phone with Frost. This is the day before I’m announcing. They know I’m coming and there is this big misconception on how I’m being used in their offense,” Robinson told Duffy and co-host Miles Butler, a former UK kicker.

Robison said he then made the safe choice in committing to UK.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. At this point, Nebraska was 1, UK was 2. If I go to UK, I can’t make the wrong choice. It’s UK. I’m the hometown kid, so I know I’m going to go in there, and I’m going to play. So, I can’t go wrong,” he said.

“That whole week everybody was like, ‘Are you going to UK?’ and all this stuff. So I’m feeling that pressure like I need to go to UK to make everybody happy.”

In his heart, though, he still liked the offense at Nebraska and when UK only beat Vanderbilt 14-7 late in the 2018 season and passed for just 18 yards after he made his commitment, he knew he had made the wrong choice for him when he remembered Kentucky barely being able to throw the ball.

“I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ As a recruit, I’m seeing it, and I’m like, if I come there, they’re still not going to throw the ball. At the end of the day, it’s who’s behind the center, who’s calling the plays,” Robinson said. “That was it for me essentially not coming in the beginning.”

However, he came back to UK after Liam Coen was brought in as offensive coordinator and he’s been the consistent playmaker the Cats needed at receiver and is a huge reason UK is 5-0 going into Saturday night’s game with LSU.

“He is just amazing,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “He plays so hard and with so much heart.”

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Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard recently compared Isaiah Jackson’s athletic ability to Paul George, a former Pacer and NBA all-star. He likes the way Jackson impacted play in the summer league, including one game with seven blocks.

“I’m not trying to compare him to Paul George right now but as a pure athlete he does some things that I’ve not seen in the gym in a long time,” Pritchard told IndyStar writer Akeem Glaspie. “He is a fast-twitch athlete. He’s at the rim all the time and I don’t know if it was fair the way we looked at him.

“I think he’s got super talent, he’s a good worker, and I think sky’s the limit for him. We got a diamond in the rough there.”

Jackson was the 22nd pick in the 2021 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and then traded to Indiana. Jackson averaged 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game in his one season at UK and was named to the all-SEC defensive team.

Jackson showed at UK he could defend multiple positions, one thing the Pacers also like. Kentucky coach John Calipari warned NBA teams that Jackson could be a draft steal.

“His defensive versatility is absolutely breathtaking,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “I just have not seen a guy, move, block shots, change shots, be able to guard in any position the way I’ve seen him be able to do it.”

Jackson has always been that way. He prioritized defense over his offensive game in college and most of his one year at UK. That’s why Calipari said he will blossom in the NBA when his offense catches up with his defense.

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