After a couple seasons of landing large classes, Richard Pitino's 2016 recruiting class is smaller but appears to be his most impactful. Today opens the early signing period for men's basketball and this class has three players who should have Gopher fans incredibly excited to take the floor at the Barn next year.
MEET THE 2016 RECRUITING CLASS
Rivals Rank: 53
This was the big get, the one that Richard had to sign. When he took over as the Gopher's Head Coach his first priority was trying to land the local trio of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis. He got to the party so late that he never really had a chance (story of my life) with those three. Next local priority was Amir Coffey. His father was a Gopher, he has always been one of the top players in his class and would be one of the most talented local kids to stay since 2009 when Royce White and Rodney Williams decided to stay at Minnesota.
Coffey was receiving interest and scholarship offers from virtually every program in the country heading into his junior season. He was a top 25 ranked kid heading into his junior season at Hopkins. Then early in the season he tears his ACL and is sidelined for the season. Recruitment slowed a bit but the Gophers stayed with Coffey through his recovery and comeback. Finally this September he made the decision to commit to the Gophers.
An incredibly athletic kid who has the body of a forward with the skill-set of a guard. Coffey has great ball-handling skills, is a very good shooter, has a high basketball IQ, an accomplished passer and is as close to a complete basketball player as you'll find for his age. He has the tools to be a special player for the Gophers.
Rivals Rank: 140
Help inside with an athletic big-man was a priority and this is exactly what the Gopher's staff is getting with the Curry commitment. An Arkansas native, Curry is a SF stuck in a PF's body. Curry is strong, athletic, nimble and a scoring threat inside of 15 feet.
His recruitment was really taking off throughout the summer and became a wanted commodity. He committed just a couple days after Coffey as the two of them visited campus on the same weekend. They really should pair to be a talented and dangerous combo at the forward spots in this system. I personally like reading things about Curry about how he attacks the rim, not only with the ball but away from the ball getting put-backs and easy opportunities. I think it is important to have those guys who can score without having to be a high-volume kind of guy. But make no mistake, he can score with the ball as well.
Defensively he should be outstanding in open spaces in the full-court and possibly in pick-n-roll situations. Added strength to bang in the paint will be important but he is really a great fit on both ends of the floor for what Coach Pitino is trying to implement here.
Rivals Rank: nr
The first player to commit to the Gophers in this cycle was Rochester's Michael Hurt. A lengthy shooter who really should remind people of Blake Hoffarber. A longer and taller version who maybe won't have the same flare for dramatic game-winners, but Hurt is an incredibly gifted shooter who has more athleticism than you may expect.
A high basketball IQ, a good passer and will play a point-forward type role who can score if given a sliver of an opening from the outside. He will need to add some strength to compete inside in the Big Ten as he may be asked to stretch defenses while playing as power forward. Certainly a nice mis-match offensively but will need to be able to defend a Big Ten power forward.
Hurt is a very nice complimentary piece in this class and will be a guy who makes the entire team better by adding a valuable weapon while not being a liability in other areas. I suspect he'll be a fan-favorite and will contribute quickly.
THE CLASS EVALUATED
Overall this class for the Gophers ranks rather high. ESPN ranks the Gophers as having the 29th best class in the country. 247 Sports has them as the 17th best class. Rivals ranks the Gopher's class 22nd overall. And Scout has us sitting at the 20th best class in this recruiting cycle. Where exactly they rank...top 30, top 20, whatever...it is a very talented class that not only fits what they are trying to do here, it has guys who are going to make an impact.
ESPN's Recap of the class...
Richard Pitino was able to keep the top local talent close to home with the commitment of Amir Coffey and the versatile 6-foot-7 wing should allow Pitino a wealth of options in next year's rotation. He's not the only quality piece in the Golden Gophers' class however as Eric Curry and Michael Hurt provide two more talented forwards at the high end of the three-star spectrum.
Rival's quick eval...
Richard Pitino has locked down the State's best player in Coffey and he has big upside as he returns from injury. Curry is an athletic and versatile four man while Hurt is a tough defender.
When combined with the current crop of freshmen, this class is a great compliment. A number of young guys this season who will all be gaining valuable experience, only to be bolstered by an elite recruit and a couple kids who will eventually be major contributors.
There is reason to be excited about the near future of Gopher basketball.