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5-Star PG Robert Dillingham Commits to NC State over Kentucky, Kansas, More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 2, 2021

Photo credit: 247Sports.com

Skilled playmaker Robert Dillingham committed to North Carolina State on Wednesday.

B/R Hoops @brhoops

Five-star class of 2023 guard Robert Dillingham is an NC State commit! <a href="https://twitter.com/robwitdashifts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@robwitdashifts</a> <a href="https://t.co/z5JZNr6kZz">pic.twitter.com/z5JZNr6kZz</a>

The 6'2" point guard is the No. 8 overall player and ranks first at his position in 247Sports' composite rankings for 2023.

It's fairly common for prep athletes to transfer schools in order to further their development in a given sport. However, Dillingham raised eyebrows when he chose to enroll at Donda Academy, a new private school in Simi Valley, California, backed by Ye.

Despite Donda being such a fresh venture, it added two top prospects in the 2023 class (5-star JJ Taylor and 4-star Jalen Hooks) and Jahki Howard from the 2024 class besides Dillingham.

The school wasted little time in making a splash, and maintaining that momentum hinged partly on setting their players up for success. In that respect, Dillingham is likely to provide a positive testimonial.

247Sports' Jerry Meyer looked at his game in November and compared him to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland: 

"Possesses a special feel space and time on the court. Combines this awareness with an elite burst of quickness to gain separation. Highly confident sharp shooter from deep. Has a deft hop back jumper going to his right. Pulls up with effectiveness in the midrange going either direction. Loves to shoot a runner going left when can't get to the rim. Slick ball handler and crafty finisher. Has it on a string and can find teammates while penetrating."
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Dillingham is dynamite with the ball in his hands. He doesn't need much space to beat his man off the dribble and dart into the paint, and he can stop on a dime and pull up when his defender cheats a bit to cut off the drive.

USABJNT @usabjnt

Robert Dillingham. Nasty 🔥🔥<br><br>🇺🇸 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USABMU16?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USABMU16</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIBAU16Americas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIBAU16Americas</a> <a href="https://t.co/XgLnmiySMs">pic.twitter.com/XgLnmiySMs</a>

That highlight came from the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, where the United States earned a gold medal in August. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.2 assists over 20.3 minutes in the six games of the tournament. He also shot 45.0 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The North Carolina native still has some room to grow with his jumper, but the same can be said for many of his fellow 2023 recruits. The pieces are obviously there for him to be a force on offense.

Because of his 165-pound frame, defense is likely to be an issue now and in the future. There's only so much he can do when matched up with bigger guards or he's switched onto even bigger forwards.

But any coach will be willing to take the trade-off as long as Dillingham delivers as a scorer and facilitator.

His commitment could be a tone-setter for fifth-year NC State head coach Kevin Keatts. The Wolfpack are off to a strong 5-1 start in 2021-22 but have reached the NCAA tournament only once since 2015.

Dillingham's 0.9966 247Sports composite rating is the second-highest for the school going back to 2000. Former first-round NBA draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. (0.9975) was the only player rated higher.

Even assuming Dillingham sticks around for one year, his arrival could signal an upswing in Keatts' fortunes on the recruiting trail.

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