Today is day one of the NCAA's early signing period for basketball. Expect this week to get official releases from the U about Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster officially signing their name as future Golden Gophers.
But we are already looking ahead to next year's early signing period when Tubby Smith and staff are desperately hoping to land what could be the biggest signing in the program's history. Tyus Jones will have to make his decision sometime next season (he could wait till the spring signing period but will probably have made his decision by next fall).
"He's not Chris Paul, but he's the closest high school point guard to Paul I've seen," ESPN recruiting expert Dave Telep told the Pioneer Press. "I'm sure Tubby Smith wants to win in the worst way. He wants to be able to counter the arguments that other schools are going to have with their tradition and their recent success. Tyus Jones is going to be recruited to be the final piece to make a national championship run for another team. That's the one thing Tubby Smith is up against."
He will be huge. But he isn't the only uber-talented high school junior in the state. Don't sleep on Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis. Together those three would give the Gophers a top 5 recruiting class and put them into a whole new realm of expectations.
Recruiting is a grind and it is absolutely vital to the success of a college basketball program. Amelia Rayno takes a look at the Gopher's recruiting struggles under Tubby Smith.
Recruiting analysts say top players often don't view Minnesota as a top program despite its Big Ten status and Smith's past accomplishments.
"Minnesota isn't really on the radar of four and five-star recruits," said Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com. "The reputation of their assistants, and even Tubby [is] they're not really ace recruiters."
Jones said he has a good relationship with Smith and his staff. Ryan James of Rivals.com points out that Gophers assistant Vince Taylor has built some solid relationships with players, but that overall the efforts have been inconsistent.
All of those perceptions could change rather quickly next fall with the signing of a few top 50 players.
(forgive me if some of these have already been linked, I was out most of last week and I'm clearing out some old links I had saved. GoAUpher links to 73 articles each time and I may not remember all of them)
- SB Nation released their first Bracketology. Gophers enter the season as a 10 seed against #7 Marquette.
- The great Myron Medcalf lists 10 coaches feeling the pressure to win this year. Tubby is #1.
- Royce White is currently not with the Houston Rockets. This just doesn't seem like it is going to end well for either party.
- Football recruiting is kind of quite right now, but the Gophers have extended an offer to running back, Jordan Huff. I'll touch on Huff more in my Friday recruiting post, but he is an Alabama native who was one of the best players in his class. But as a junior he tore an ACL, he is now battling back and having a solid season. This is the kind of kid we should land. Someone who not long ago was a lock to eventually end up at an Alabama or LSU, but now can fall to the Gophers. If he can get back to his old self (but not too soon), we then landed a real gem.
- So, did you know that the Gophers are going to a bowl game? The team was pretty excited and emotional after their win in Illinois.
"It was crazy. People jumping around, shouting," Minnesota senior cornerback Michael Carter said. "It got emotional, too. Some seniors crying — including me, I was probably one of them."This is a great accomplishment for the seniors.
- OTE has their weekly power rankings. This week's theme is the Game of Thrones. My favorite is the Wisconsin ranking!
Philip Nelson is getting advice from past Jerry Kill quarterbacks. Joel Sambursky was the last QB who started for Kill for four seasons.
"He wanted to know how I dealt with that (leading as a freshman)," said Sambursky, now the radio analyst for the Salukis. "I told him: 'I know it's vital to have a quarterback in coach Kill's offense that leads the same way he does. It won't work if you don't.' Coach Kill is tremendous at teaching leadership -- how and when to lead. His team won't survive if he doesn't have a quarterback that reflects him. Getting to talk to Philip, I think he can be that guy."Great things are in store for Philip Nelson.