Chalmette's Mitchell Robinson (23) smiles as time is running out in the game during the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic New Orleans on January 5, 2017 in Westwego, LA.

If things had gone as originally planned, Mitchell Robinson would have spent Saturday night perhaps celebrating with his Western Kentucky teammates after their 81-65 victory over Indiana State that day.

But Robinson, of course, never played a game at Western Kentucky.

Instead, the 7-footer who graduated from Chalmette High in the spring chose to sit this season out to focus solely on the NBA Draft.

So instead of being in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Saturday night, Robinson was in his old high school gymnasium.

He stepped onto the court close to 10 p.m., just as the Chalmette Christmas tournament had concluded.

Other than a few friends there to play a pickup game with him, the gym was empty.

There were no fans in the stands to cheer on the guy who just a few months ago finished the season rated as the No. 11 player in the country.

The scoreboard wasn't turned on to keep up with the score.

In fact, the last time the scoreboard was on for Robinson was back on April 14, when he played in the Jordan Brand Classic, a showcase of the top high school seniors in the country.

Robinson scored 15 rebounds and grabbed three rebounds that night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

In his game before that — the prestigious McDonald's All-American Game — he scored 14 points to go with three rebounds and two blocks.

And before that, he led Chalmette to the Class 5A semifinals, finishing the year averaging 26.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and six blocks on his way to being named Player of the Year on The New Orleans Advocate's All-Metro Team.

His arms seem more muscular now. He confirms that assumption when asked, flexing his right bicep.

He says he's beefed up to 230 now, 10 pounds more than he was when finished his career at Chalmette.

He's been going back and forth between Texas and Louisiana but is back home now for the holidays.

His days consist mostly of basketball.

His nights too, which is why he was in his old gym so late on a Saturday night.

"I'm just working out, getting ready for the draft, getting stronger, getting faster, getting better," Robinson said." I'm waking up early and staying up late, just grinding every day."

His path to try to get to the NBA isn't the conventional one. He could be spending this season playing against college competition, and for a while it seemed he would be.

He committed to Texas A&M as a junior when Rick Stansbury was an assistant for the Aggies.

When Stansbury was hired at Western Kentucky, Robinson switched his commitment and signed with the Hilltoppers. He went to campus but left. He looked around at some other schools, even taking a visit to hometown UNO, before returning to Western Kentucky. Three weeks later, he decided to just focus on the NBA.

"It is tough," Robinson said. "I'm working out, and nobody is able to see me like they are seeing everybody else. So I have to really make sure that I am working out too. I can't afford to take days off. Like right now, this time is supposed to be like a break, but I can't be on break. So I'm out here working out now. I want to be on the same page with everybody else when the draft time comes."

He says he has been working mostly on his ball-handling and face-up moves.

Despite taking a different path, his size and talents should still be enough for him to hear his name called in the first round.

One website,, updated its mock draft last week and has Robinson going to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round with the 26th overall pick. Sports Illustrated's recent mock draft has him going in the Washington Wizards with the No. 18 pick.

Robinson doesn't care where he ends up. He just wants to land somewhere, which is why he spent his Saturday night in a high school gym.

"I only have a few months left, so I'm just counting it down," Robinson said. "People feel I made a bad decision. It may have been kinda bad, but I really feel like I can make this happen. If I work hard enough and do what I have been doing, I can make this happen."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.