The Gophers have been searching for a big man to help fill the gap after Trevor Mbakwe leaves next year, and now they have one.
Junior college big man Daniel Edozie called coach Tubby Smith and made a verbal commitment to Minnesota on Wednesday morning. The forward officially visited Minnesota last weekend.
“I just felt like Minnesota was right,” the 6-8, 239-pound California native said. “They’ve just been there from the start, through everything.”
Minnesota first contacted Edozie in July, and went down to Tyler Junior College (Texas) to watch him twice before Edozie came to Minnesota. When asked what impressed him, Edozie responded “everything, pretty much.”
“I loved the coaching staff and the academic staff, how the players told me the coaches are involved in their college life and … Their attitudes and personalities, and their long-term success and how well-known Tubby Smith is across the country and throughout basketball history. … Outside of the campus, it just makes me feel like I’m at home because of the metropolitan, city area. I’ve always lived in the city, lived the city life and everything.”
Edozie’s coach Mike Marquis said the forward had gotten some calls from “schools in from Oregon, Oklahoma, different leagues, different levels,” but none, it seems, at the level of Minnesota. Edozie was recruited by some mid majors out of high school, and Iowa State, but does not have an account listed on Rivals, Scout or ESPN.
“We felt like Minnesota was kind of the first one in the door and Ron Jirsa and Tubby, they just did a good of honesty and professionalism,” Marquis said. “It just worked out that it was an easy choice for him.”
Edozie, who plans to major in Health Sciences, is the second recruit for the Gophers, who had Chicago wing Alvin Ellis commit on Sept. 23. Minnesota has extended offers to other big men, including Toledo-native Nigel Hayes and one of Ellis’ former teammates, Alex Foster, but neither have committed.
This is Amelia Rayno's fifth season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News. Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno.