Jerome Robinson hit the lottery. And in many ways, so did the Los Angeles Clippers.
When the Clippers drafted the Boston College with the 13th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, it cemented the 6-5 guard’s place in Eagles’ lore – becoming the program’s first-ever lottery slot pick since the NBA introduced the format in 1985.
“It’s exciting to be in L.A., being drafted by the Clippers, and having the chance to learn from a coach like Doc Rivers,” Robinson said in the immediate press gathering following his introduction to Commissioner Adam Silver and the rest of the NBA faithful.
Robinson now heads to Los Angeles as a combo guard capable of playing multiple positions. He played three positions at Boston College, at times shifting his frame from shooting guard to both point guard and small forward. That will provide some much-needed flexibility to a roster already with combo guard Austin Rivers and Bradley, a shooting guard known for his defensive prowess.
“I look at Jerome as a guy who can play both the two and the one positions,” Rivers said at the Clippers’ introductory press conference on Monday at the team’s training facility in Playa Vista, Calif. “When you can play multiple positions in this league, you’ll play for a long time.”
How did the Garner, N.C. product end up in Tinseltown? This past season, the Clippers traded their franchise player to Detroit for a treasure trove of assets as they began the rebuilding process. In January, the Pistons acquired Blake Griffin, in return sending Avery Bradley and two future draft picks to Los Angeles. It included a 2018 first round draft pick protected only if Detroit won the lottery and placed in the top four. But the Piston pick wound up at No. 12, enabling the Clippers to draft-and-trade Miles Bridges in order to acquire Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Charlotte. Los Angeles then drafted No. 13 with their own pick, enabling them to pick Robinson.
In the Clippers, he also heads to a franchise revitalized by its championship-caliber infrastructure. Head coach Doc Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship and won a division championship in his first season with Los Angeles. The team had made four straight playoff appearances before missing the postseason last season, including a span of five straight seasons with 50-plus wins and a span of seven straight seasons with at least 40 wins. It’s enabled the franchise to claim bragging rights in its city, a former rarity over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Clippers have finished with a better record than the Lakers for the past six seasons, winning the head-to-head during the regular season in each of those years. Since 2012-2013, the Clippers are 21-3 against their intracity rivals, including three perfect records, and their season winning percentage was over .600 until this past season when they finished 42-40.
“(The Clippers) are a winning program that I’m going into and they want to win right now,” Robinson said to the gathering of L.A. media. “I feel like leaving BC, I helped turn them into a winning program and I want to be a part of winners.”
In addition to his newfound franchise, Robinson will represent the revitalization of the Boston College basketball program. A rebuilding process can occasionally have its growing pains, and there’s no hiding or shying away from the struggles over Robinson’s three-year tenure at The Heights. By remaining true to the program and committed to its success, however, he now stands as the current symbol of Jim Christian‘s undertaken process. As he leaves for the NBA, BC is now one of the teams in the NCAA Tournament discussion, and the Eagles are blazing on the recruiting trail with top-echelon talent committing to the energy within the program.
“He takes so much pride in being at his best and he gave us everything he had,” Christian said shortly after the Clippers made their pick at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “We will be telling the story of Jerome Robinson for years – a person who believed in us gave us everything he had. He is now reaping the rewards.”
Though he won’t be on campus for Boston College’s next run at a national tournament, it’s his legacy that will help define the process. Robinson joins John Bagley in Boston College NBA Draft lore, and he becomes the 10th Boston College Eagle taken in the first round. His name is forever joined with the legends of programs past, including Gerry Ward, Bill Curley, Jared Dudley and Troy Bell.
It will also set the tone for future Eagles hoping for that same moment. Ky Bowman tested the waters with Robinson for the NBA Draft but ultimately decided to return to Chestnut Hill. Bowman now enters his junior season with the nation abuzz about the ACC’s rising tide, and it makes the possibility all the more realistic that a new run of first round picks is only just beginning.