I was digging in the TDG archives looking for something specific from last fall, but I ended up stumbling on this. This was a basketball recruiting post, written on September 20th, wondering if/when the Gophers were going to get their first commitment.
What a difference a year makes, that was 2013. Now we sit in mid-September of 2014 and our recruiting class is essentially finished. What a stark difference from a year ago.
The 2014 recruiting class did not receive it's first commitment until September 30th when Josh Martin verbally committed to Coach Pitino. Then by the end of October Nate Mason and Carlos Morris also decided to don the maroon and gold. Over the spring we added the two big men with international flavor to finish out the class.
The 2015 class has moved much quicker and has added some high quality players. Jarvis Johnson is the top guard in the state, Kevin Dorsey is a legit 4-star point, Dupree McBrayer is a rising 3-star wing and Jonathan Nwankwo is a physical beast in the paint. This will potentially end up being a top 25 recruiting class. Again...what a difference a year makes.
So there are really two outstanding questions. First, are we truly done with this class even though we are out of scholarships and Alex Illikainen is still out there? Secondly, what about the class of 2016?
This class? Sounds like it might actually be done. There are really only two names still on the radar, Chris Clark and Illikainen. But is appears as though we are out of scholarships and choosing to not oversign. I can respect this decision by the coaching staff, if in fact this is their decision as it is rumored to be. We have a roster full of guys who want to be here. Illikainen has had the opportunity to commit for months now and chose not to. I hope he goes to a school outside of the Big Ten and I wish him the best. Chris Clark is about the only other name that should make us wonder. Another top-tier kid who would be a perfect fit here. If either calls and says he wants to be here, you might try to find a way. But expect both to sign elsewhere.
So 2016...time to start paying attention to you. I cannot remember the last time we had all or even the majority of our class filled out still two months before the signing period. The staff can now devote nearly all of their time and energy to the class of 2016. So we have a nice young base of talent that will grow over the next couple years and then ideally we infuse that corp with a few very talented players to boost this team to one that can compete at the top of the Big Ten.
So who are we going to be looking at over the next 14 months?
#1 - Amir Coffey - this is the number one target on the board (I have no inside information but I guarantee he is the top priority in this class). Coffey is the son of Richard Coffey, if you are old enough to remember he was a rebounding force in the Big Ten. I remember being a kid at Clem's camp getting some pearls of rebounding wisdom from the elder Coffey. Now I get to watch his son be pursued by the Gophers s and other premier programs around the country.
Coffey is a 6-6 wing, currently ranked 45th nationally according to Rivals and 24th nationally according to ESPN. Amir's recruiting is being handled primarily by his father and he is looking for something very specific, which should make this recruitment rather interesting.
"The decision to where Amir goes to college is going to be drastically different than what the decision was for where I went to school. For Amir it's going to be what schools are looking to play a big guard. I want Amir to play some point, I think Amir can play some point."
He wants to see whether the program consistently plays big guards at the point guard and shooting guard positions -- he believes that if they don't, they won't change for Amir. He wants to see the coach's style -- he believes his son would best flourish in a freer, faster-paced offense. He wants to see how much a team moves the ball -- he believes his son's passing ability should be fully utilized.
Those criteria are non-negotiable.
"If schools are considering him as a three, they're probably not going to make it too far in the process with us," Coffey said. "Because he's not a 3. The best part of Amir's game, to me, is something that can't really be taught: his ability to see the court."
In the short tenure of Richard Pitino, we have played small guards. Not that he's against playing bigger guards at the point but we haven't seen it yet. So convincing the elder Coffey that Amir will be properly developed to play more of a guard position at the next level is going to be rather important it appears.
The other in-state kid with an offer is Michael Hurt. A 6-6 small forward/shooting guard from Rochester. Hurt had a nice sophomore season in the Big 9, a good summer and earned himself a scholarship in August. Currently Hurt has other mid-major level offers but that list is expected to grow. He would add a very nice shooting-touch to the roster should he eventually choose Minnesota.
The only other names on the radar that I see has a Gopher offer is SG/SF Rawle Alkins - a wing player from New York, Alkins is a consensus 4-star and top 50 player nationally. Is this when the coaching staff's East Coast AAU ties really pays off?
The recruiting cycle for 2016 is still a ways off and information is hard to come by at this point. But I love the notion that the current staff is able to focus on these kids early while much of the rest of the Big Ten is still fighting for signatures.
ADDED - Gopher basketball scholarship grid. 3 scholarships available for the class of 2016.
|Available per Year||0||2||3||4|