Yesterday and today have seen the Gophers add two more commitments to the class of 2014. The class now has 6 commitments and should be finished for the year.
News broke yesterday that Pitino and staff signed Bakary Konate, a 6-11 big man originally from Mali and was on the team last season at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. Here he was actually unable to compete in games in order to retain 4 years of college eligibility. What do we know about Konate? Not much, but Marcus Fuller put together a nice introductory article on Konate with quotes from he and his coach.
"What he can do now is defensively he's ready. He's long. He can protect the rim and clean up the glass pretty well. He can move his feet. So his immediate impact will be defensively."
Konate is a better outside shooter than a low-post scorer right now, but that could change with weight lifting, his coach says.
"He's actually a really good shooter," Barnwell said. "He can make threes and is a confident shooter. But his lower body has to get stronger for him to be more successful around the rim, offensively."
The staff found Konate after going to Sunrise to watch Tum Tum Nairn. Konate was practicing against Nairn's squad and impressed both Richard and Rick Pitino, who was there recruiting for Louisville.
This is another athletic big man to add to the mix. Konate will be a 20 year old freshman so whether or not he is redshirted should be an interesting decision. With Maurice Walker and Elliott Eliason ahead of him for playing time, it might make sense to redshirt and gain some strength, but he is already 20 and he may be ready to play fairly quickly. Seems to be fairly raw now but may have some significant upside.
The staff wasn't finished this week after the Konate commitment. News broke today that the Gophers will be getting a transfer from Zach Lofton, a 6-4 shooting guard coming to us from Illinois State. Lofton is a Columbia Heights product who has taken a circuitous route to get back to Minnesota and play for the Gophers.
In high school Lofton led Columbia Heights to the state championship game. He was a big-time scorer averaging over 29 points per game. Upon graduating Loften decided to go the Prep School route and spent a year playing for Quakerdale Prep in Iowa hoping to earn a D1 scholarship. His next years was spent down in Texas in the JUCO ranks, playing for San Jacinto where he earned himself a scholarship at Illinois State.
His first year at ISU, Lofton was the team's 2nd leading scorer at 11.3 per game. And now he is heading back home to play for the University that he always wanted to play for. He will have to sit out a year, due to the transfer, and will then have 2 years to play.
This is a nice pickup, to get a scoring guard to replace much of the backcourt scoring we will lose next year when Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu graduate. I expect that Lofton will be one of our key offensive contributors for two seasons when he becomes eligible.
With this week's activity the Gopher staff has used up all 6 available scholarships for this year while spreading two of them out over different classes. Here is our current scholarship allotment and what we not have available for the class of 2015.
Four scholarships are currently available for next year's class, but if you didn't learn anything from this past year then you should know that things change.