By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – As a life-long Drake fan, and as a graduate of Drake University, the news on Friday was a major punch in the gut.
I was told by a very reliable source that Drake center Liam Robbins was set to enter the transfer portal and that it would likely happen on Saturday.
Unfortunately, my source was correct.
For those unaware of Robbins, he is a rapidly improving 7-foot, 230-pound junior-to-be, who has defied the odds as an unheralded recruit from Davenport. He averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore this past season, and also had 99 blocks.
Considered a project since enrolling at Drake, Robbins has made incredible progress and now apparently wants to play on a bigger stage.
I get it.
But as a Drake graduate, it still hurts.
My source has a connection to Drake and I could hear the sadness in his voice as we talked about Robbins' decision on Friday afternoon. My source called it devastating to the Drake program.
Drake coach Darian DeVries has something special brewing, but losing Robbins is a massive blow that could ultimately benefit Fran McCaffery and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Robbins will have to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules, but he still could train with Iowa All-America center Luka Garza, assuming Garza returns for his senior season.
Robbins also comes from a family of Hawkeye fans, or so I’ve been told, so it makes sense that Iowa would be an option for him.
Iowa is currently at the 13-scholarship limit with power forward Cordell Pemsl having announced that he plans to transfer for his senior season.
But rosters are fluid, and maybe it could sort of be a trade, Robbins for Pemsl.
I feel for the coaches at Drake, whose staff includes former Iowa player Matt Gatens.
The Drake program is clearly on the rise with back-to-back 20-win seasons, but now the biggest piece to the puzzle, figuratively and literally, is gone.
Drake and Iowa also don’t play each other anymore, so Robbins could avoid that awkward circumstance.
Robbins has improved enough to where he should have multiple offers from power five programs.
But it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he ends up as a Hawkeye.