USA Basketball just wrapped up a two-day developmental camp for kids in the 2015 and 2016 classes. What does this have to do with Gopher basketball you ask? Well, two players have very strong ties to the Gopher program and will be heavily recruited to wear maroon and gold for their Gopher careers.
46 freshmen and sophomores were invited to Colorado Springs for two days of development and observation by USA Basketball. Two of these players should be familiar names to Gopher fans and both stood out from their peers. Henry Ellenson, brother of current Gopher freshman Wally, and Amir Coffey, son of former Gopher Richard, reportedly had outstanding camps. This ESPN Insider article by Reggie Rankin highlighted just three players who stood out at the development camp. Ellenson and Coffey were two of the three!
After taking in the first workout, I saw many deserving players, but these prospects repeatedly caught my eye, not only in the scrimmages but in the skill development segments as well.
Henry is a high school sophomore from Rice Lake, Wisconsin. As mentioned, his brother is currently a Gopher and expected to contribute as a true freshman off the bench this year. By most accounts, Henry is poised to be a more highly recruited player and one that is likely at the top of the Gopher recruiting board for the class of 2015.
Ellenson is a coach's dream and an opposing post player’s worst nightmare. He has size, strength, skill and the ability to score with his back to the basket and can easily extend to the arc when facing it. He runs the floor well for his size and simply seems to have an answer for whatever the defense throws at him.
This is going to be yet another semi-local product to keep a sharp eye on. After we land Jones, Vaughn and Reed in the class of 2014; we will land Ellenson in 2015 to put together a dominating roster.
Amir Coffey, son of a Gopher great and current Hopkins player, also has started to make a name for himself as one of the best in the class of 2015.
Coffey is an extra-long and lean lefty combination guard who is more of a point guard because of his ball-handling and passing. He has great touch on his passes, especially his lob passes on the break, and is smooth and crafty with the ball. He could slide over to the shooting guard position and not miss a beat, though. Although Coffey didn't shoot well at the morning session, his release and follow through look good, so he is very capable.
It is safe to say Coffey has off-the-charts upside. At times he reminded me of a young Jalen Rose.
Coffey was also mentioned here as one of the best defenders at the camp. Now, he may not eclipse his father's career rebounding total (though that would be impressive as a perimeter player) but he is looking to be a 2nd generation college basketball star and maybe he can one-up his dad by getting the Gophers to the Final Four instead of just missing because of a missed jumper that would have knocked off Georgia Tech in 1990.
Both targets are going to be wooed by the Gophers and both should have a strong interest in playing for the Gophers. And the decision for both of these guys will be much easier if the Gophers can start winning. This season is SO very important. Win now, land at least a couple of the local big fish in the class of 2014 and then the likes of Ellenson and Coffey (and others) will be happy to put on a Gopher uniform to continue a winning tradition.