Three players are expected to sign with the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, when the basketball early signing period begins.
The Gophers have gotten commitments from forward Josh Martin and guards Nate Mason and Carlos “Squirrel” Morris.
Martin, a power forward from Seattle, became the first player to commit to Minnesota in late September, choosing the Gophers over Pittsburgh and Florida State. The 6-8 Martin has played most of his high school career as a power forward, but has the ability to play a wing.
Mason, a combo guard from Georgia, and Morris, a junior college shooting guard from Florida, followed Martin’s commitment in October. At 5-11, Mason, who can handle the ball well and shoot efficiently, is considered undervalued by many recruiting analysts because of his size. He chose Minnesota over Clemson, Creighton, Kansas State, Memphis, SMU and Virginia. The 6-4 Morris, who was ranked in the Rivals.com national 150 for the class of 2012, first attended Chipola Junior College in Florida because of grade issues. Now he could be a steal for Minnesota, who were one of the few major conference schools to continue to recruit Morris after high school.
All three, while being somewhat under the radar, appear to be good fits for new Gophers coach Richard Pitino’s up-tempo style that emphasizes speed, shooting and versatility. Pitino has been adamant from day one that the right match is more important than a high ranking. Each are rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com.
The Gophers have one remaining scholarship available for the 2014 class. Minnesota was hoping to land five-star Minneapolis native Reid Travis with it, but the DeLaSalle power forward instead committed to Stanford on Friday. Travis was considered the Gophers’ best shot at any of the local “Big Three” players, which also includes Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones and former Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn. Jones is expected to commit Friday, but the front-runners appear to be Duke and Baylor.
Minnesota could use the fourth scholarship to go after Vaughn or another player in the spring — Birmingham power forward Abdoulaye Gueye has garnered a lot of interest from the Gophers, for example — or save it for the 2015 class, when Pitino and his staff will be more established. After coming to the university in April, Pitino and the Gophers staff have been recruiting for 2014 for a mere 6 ½ months.