Mykell Robinson is the first to admit there are a few differences between Conference USA and the Big Ten.
Those differences just didn’t matter as much as the opportunity he saw at North Texas. The 6-foot-6 small forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas committed to UNT on Tuesday over his two other finalists, Wyoming and Minnesota, a Big Ten program that competes against national powers like Michigan State and tradition-laden programs like Indiana.
“It was a tough decision to pass on Minnesota,” Robinson said after announcing his decision on Twitter. “You can’t compare the Big Ten to Conference USA, but coaching and playing wise, they are about even. With me joining the team, we will have a chance to compete with high major schools.”
UNT won the Conference USA regular season title last season and rolled up at least 20 victories for the third straight year under coach Grant McCasland. The Mean Green (20-11) were the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that was canceled due to the spread of COVID-19.
UNT lost key 3-point shooting threat DJ Draper and fellow guard Roosevelt Smart to graduation. The Mean Green’s need for perimeter help became more glaring when fellow guard Umoja Gibson elected to leave the program as a transfer shortly after the season.
Gibson was UNT’s second leading scorer with an average of 14.5 points per game and was a second-team All-C-USA selection.
The status of redshirt freshman guard Larry Wise is also in question after he tore the patellar tendon in his knee late in the season. UNT expects Wise to be ready for next season, but he faces a long rehab process.
“The coaches see me as a guy who can bring energy, set the tone defensively and make open shots,” Robinson said. “My goal is to do whatever it takes to win.
“I can provide some perimeter scoring. I’m ready to roll in and fill those shoes.”
UNT assistant coach Matt Braeuer played a key role in recruiting Robinson, who began his high school career at Fort Bend Hightower. He averaged 14.3 points per game and received interest from Division I schools.
Robinson elected to spend a year playing at Sunrise to help improve his recruiting stock. The school’s post-graduate prep team plays other prep programs and junior colleges. Smart also attended Sunrise, as did former Oklahoma standout Buddy Hield, who was the sixth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Robinson is the second player to commit to UNT in the class of 2020. The Mean Green previously picked up a commitment from Rubin Jones, a shooting guard from Houston Yates.
UNT will return three starters from its C-USA championship team and is expected to continue its rise under McCasland.
Robinson believes he can help with the process. He and Jones, who is 6-foot-4, will improve the Mean Green’s size on the perimeter. Draper was listed a 6-feet, while Gibson is 6-1.
“It felt like it would be the best fit for me,” Robinson said of UNT. “I can come in and make an impact.”