Gopher Basketball 2012 Recruiting

The 2011 Class is wrapped up and in the world of recruiting it is never too early to look ahead to next year's class. So we begin the look at 2012. To adequately pen a recruiting post you need to cover three key areas. How many scholarships do we have available, what are our needs and then who are we targeting? The first two steps are very easy but in April it is hard to get a clear picture on who Minnesota is targeting. The AAU season is just getting underway and will heat up as we near the summer months. Once tournaments start happening all around the country then you will see coaches taking more time to evaluate the talent and carefully decide who they are going to offer scholarships to.

The Gophers this year need to be extra careful in their scouting and eventually who they offer as we only have 2 open scholarships right now. Looking at our scholarship matrix below you see that we have two seniors on the roster which means assuming we have no transfers or players leaving early for the NBA Draft, we'll have two available scholarships.

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
SR Trevor Mbwake PF X
SR Ralph Sampson III C X
JR Rodney Williams SF X X
JR Julian Welch G X X
JR Andre Ingram F X X
SO Austin Hollins SG X X X
SO Maurice Walker C X X X
SO Chris Armelin SG X X X
SO Maverick Ahanmisi PG X X X
rFR Elliot Eliason C X X X X
rFR Oto Osenieks PF X X X X
FR Andre Hollins PG X X X X
FR Joe Coleman SG X X X X
JR Dominique Dawson G/F walk walk
JR Chris Halvorsen F walk walk

The addition of Julian Welch and Andre Ingram was a nice move from a scholarship availability standpoint. Before they committed the Gophers would have had just one available scholarship for the 2013 class. We'll get to that class later but one person classes make for a lack of balanced experience on your roster.

We are losing a PF and a soft C with our departing seniors but that does not necessarily mean we'll be targeting those positions. Even with the departure of Mbakwe and Sampson we are still left with two centers on the roster (Maurice Walker and Elliot Eliason) plus a PF in Andre Ingram and a combo forward, Oto Osenicks. Other positions of need are SF and PG considering we have just one of each on the current roster. We have several athletic guards who can play different perimeter positions so I do not anticipate we will offer a guard unless it is a true shooting guard that can stretch a defense ala Blake Hoffarber (with some added athleticism).

So with just two scholarships available, what direction will the staff go? I'm going to take the easy road here and guess that we'll go with a big man and a perimeter player.

I'd be shocked if we signed two big men considering Elliot Eliason is a true center who is only a freshman, Maurice Walker can play C or PF, Andre Ingram is a PF and Oto is supposed to be able to play PF or maybe even a shooting SF. Those four guys give us some flexibility and three of them are young enough that they'll be around for a few years. Adding one big man not only seems logical but Tubby has signed a big man in every one of his recruiting classes. If I had to be pinned down to one position I would guess that we'll sign a center.

On the perimeter it is very interesting. As I said above I doubt that we'll sign a combo, athletic guard; we have a few of those. Whatever position we sign on the perimeter it will be a "true" position player. Signing a "true" point guard is a very real possibility and it is a significant need in my opinion. But I sincerely hope that we don't waste our time with another guy who can play a little point and a little shooting guard. We need a true point who can run the offense, play some defense and help his team score. But those are not always easy to sign, Tubby has seemingly tried in every recruiting class and failed to land a legit point.

So next we move on to shooting guard. Now one could argue that with Hollins, Hollins, Coleman and Armelin we have plenty of shooting guards. This is true, but the problem is that none of them are exceptional shooters. The idea of landing a pure shooter would significantly help this offense, especially if they also possess some athleticism. This route seems the least likely to me but if the right player is interested I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to land a shooter.

Finally we come to small forward. In our current offense there isn't a huge distinction between SG and SF, so considering we have guys like Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman who could slide over to be a smaller forward this isn't necessarily a huge area of need. But we are losing Rodney Williams soon and the idea of landing a "true" small forward would be a good plan. A 6-6 or 6-7 athletic wing who can shoot a little, defend well and slash to the basket is something we just don't have. Rodney is in that mold but has yet to grow in to the role.

If I had a vote I would offer a true point first, a true SF second and then if a great shooter came along I'd be happy to take him. I think we could get by without at true SF with our current roster better than we'll get by without a real point guard, I'm just not sold on the Welch/An Hollins

So who is available and who are we targeting? Sorry to make you click below to see the rest.

As I mentioned several hundred words ago, things are pretty murky in April. It is hard to get a firm grip on exactly who we have even offered scholarships. And there are stories almost daily from various recruiting sources that coaches are out evaluating different kids and showing some interest. But how that is going to play out in actual scholarships offered to actual kids who actually might want to play for the Gophers is really hard to gauge.

Big Man Targets - I think that it is pretty clear we have offered a few big men. A.J. Hammons, Adam Woodbury and Khaliq Spicer are guys that we have offered and are guys that seem to have some interest in us.

A.J. Hammons
Stars: 4
Home State: Indiana
Height: 6-11
Other Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Xavier

Hammons is the highest ranked prospect that we have offered and we have a realistic shot at landing. The Indiana native is a good post scorer with great hands. Hammons looks to be a guy who would be one of the best scoring posts we've seen in the Tubby era.

Adam Woodbury
Stars: 3
Home State: Iowa
Height: 6-11
Other Offers: Iowa, Iowa St, Neb, Virginia, Utah, mid-majors

Woodbury is a great passing big man who can score and plays defense with good energy. Less upside than the rest of the guys we've offered but he should be a solid big man, and in our system the ability to pass from the post (high or low) would help to make the offense more efficient.

Khaliq Spicer
Stars: 3
Home State: Michigan
Height: 6-9
Other Offers: Central Michigan, Dayton, Detroit

Spicer is more of a quick and athletic big man who rebounds well, blocks shots and is very good in transition. He obviously does not have any other high major offers at this point, but as he works on his skills he should be a more valued commodity.

Cinmeon Bowers
Stars: 3
Home State: Wisconsin
Height: 6-7
Other Offers: Maryland, Iowa, DePaul

ESPN says that Minnesota has actually offered Bowers while Rivals and Scout do not show that as true, yet. Bowers is not a great shooter or defender but he is athletic, rebounds pretty well and runs well in transition.

Kyle Washington
Stars: NR
Home State: Minnesota
Height: 6-8
Other Offers: none

Washington is a local kid who plays a position of potential need so he is clearly worth mentioning and he may be a player with untapped and unlimited potential. Currently he has no offers but is getting scouted by several high-major schools like Georgia Tech, Iowa, Iowa State, Stanford, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is very raw offensively and with some added strength may be more of an athletic power forward than a wing player.

Kyle Bauman
Stars: NR
Home State: Minnesota
Height: 6-8
Other Offers: South Dakota State

I'd be surprised if Bauman is a primary option as he appears to be more of a mid-major prospect at best. I'm sure the Gopher staff is in contact with him just in case he improves over the summer and makes himself into a high major type player.

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Point Guard Prospects - There isn't a ton of action out there surrounding possible point guard options but this is what I was able to ascertain. Actual offers do not appear to be out there right now, but it is early in the evaluating period.

Wesley Staten
Stars: 3
Home State: Iowa
Height: 6-1
Other Offers: Iowa State

We have not offered Staten but Tubby has been looking at him this spring. He is athletic, a pretty good defender and much more of a penetrating point than a shooter. He was the point on a state championship team this past year as a junior and is certainly a good floor leader. Ryan James of GI.com recently said he believes Staten would be the Gopher's #1 point guard target at this point, but he also indicates it is very early.

Ray Lee
Stars: 3
Home State: Michigan
Height: 6-3
Other Offers: Iowa State, Baylor, Virginia

Another point that we have not actually offered but a GopherIllustrated story last week indicated that we are in fact interested. Lee didn't have much to say about Minnesota other than we've contacted him and told him we need a point.

Siyani Chambers
Stars: 4
Home State: Minnesota
Height: 5-11
Other Offers: Nebraska, Harvard, Central Mich, Santa Clara

The Hopkins point has plenty of D1 interest but the Gophers have never appeared to be super hot to the idea of Chambers. He is a smart player who is a pass-first type point, not necessarily a scorer. ESPN Scouts eval describes him as "smart and crafty" with a good understanding of defense. Certainly worth watching this coming season and considering he is a local kid, I'd rather sign him than watch him beat us as a Cornhusker.

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Shooting Guard Prospects - As stated I would only expect to see a shooting guard offered it is either a great, pure shooter or if it is stud player that is just too good to pass up even with a glut of you, athletic off-guards on the roster already. The list below are guys worth keeping an eye on but I doubt you will see them with a Gopher offer as this position just isn't a huge area of need with this class.

Johnny Woodard
Stars: NR
Home State: Minnesota
Height: 6-4
Other Offers: Green Bay, Milwaukee

Woodard is a very good athlete but not a consistent shooter, at least not during his junior season. The Duluth East guard may not be a great shooter, but he is a scorer averaging just under 24 ppg during his junior season. With a good summer showing he may see his stock raise significantly. The Gophers are looking at him, but have not offered.

Marcus Marshall
Stars: NR
Home State: Minnesota
Height: 6-4
Other Offers: Indiana State, Northern Illinois, South Dakota St, UMKC

St. Paul Johnson's star guard is another athletic guard who could possibly be a point guard prospect as well. He averaged 16.5 ppg on a team with two seniors who will be playing D1 ball this fall. No Gopher offer but like Woodard we have been reported to be out and watching him.

Wally Ellenson
Stars: NR
Home State: Wisconsin
Height: 6-4
Other Offers: St. Louis, Northern Illinois, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Cal Poly, UIC and others

Ellenson is playing in Minnesota for the AAU season and is getting looks from the Gophers.

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Small Forward Prospects - This would be third on my personal list of needs. What if we could land a forward who is exactly what we all expected Rodney Williams was supposed to be (or may become in his junior season)? An athletic forward who can beat a defense off the dribble and get to the rim or hit an occasional outside jumper to be a multi-faceted offensive threat.

Demarquise Johnson
Stars: 3
Home State: Arizona
Height: 6-5
Other Offers: Minnesota, Arizona St, Colorado, Virginia, San Diego St

Johnson scored 21 ppg last year and was named to the 2012 All-State First-Team by the Arizona Preps staff. A decent shooter who can attack the rim and according to ESPN loves the two dribble pull-up. Possibly considered a 2-guard, but Johnson has a Gopher offer according to Rivals.

Junior Lomomba
Stars: 3
Home State: Wisconsin
Height: 6-5
Other Offers: Minnesota, Baylor, Cincinnati, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, Xavier, other mid-majors

Active defender and a strong slasher, Lomomba is a typical wing player without a consistent three-point jump shot. Rivals does not have us offering Lomomba but ESPN does. The wing is actually playing plenty of point for his AAU team working on his court awareness and trying to extend his shooting range. I'm intrigued by Lomomba.

DeJuan Marrero
Stars: 4
Home State: Indiana
Height: 6-5
Other Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Memphis

A very active player on both ends of the floor who can finish in traffic. Marrero needs to work on his perimeter skills but according to a Rivals story on the Hawkeye Report he is spending his offseason working on his jump shot. "I've been working hard on my overall game, especially my shooting. I think my jump shot is coming along, but I still have to keep working to improve it. I'm in the gym very day working hard." He averaged 22 points and 15 boards per game last year. Scout says that we have offered him, Rivals and ESPN do not say such things. I'd be thrilled if we were in the running for his services but there isn't a whole lot of news linking the Gophers to Marrero.

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I'm sure that there are many prospects out there that I am missing but this is the best I could come up with right now. The place to go for Gopher recruiting info is GopherIllustrated. Ryan James has had several stories per week lately on the subject and it is worth the subscription fee to read it. Gopher Hole also makes good effort to cover recruiting, especially considering you don't have to pay for it.

With all of that said my wish list would look something like this (in order)...

  1. A.J. Hammons - scoring big man
  2. Wesley Staten - athletic point who will run the offense
  3. DeJuan Marrero - he is going to be very good on both ends of the floor but this is a long-shot
  4. Kyle Washington - I'm a sucker for raw kids with massive potential, let him red-shirt then dominate
  5. Sinyani Chambers - I think we really need a point and I like Chambers
  6. Adam Woodbury - a skilled passer and solid big-man, steal him from Iowa
  7. Demarquise Johnson - skilled wing with other good offers
  8. Johnny Woodard - 24 ppg as a junior is impressive, even if he isn't a great shooter (yet).
  9. Khaliq Spicer - 6-9 big man who rebounds well and has some athleticism

Ideally I'd love to land 1 and 2 on the list. If we happen to get #3 I'd be pretty happy as well. And if all three fall through it might actually be a blessing to get Washington and Chambers. What do you think?

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