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.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.
Freshman guard Isaiah Washington will make his local debut on a team with All-Big Ten forward Jordan Murphy. Nate Mason and Amir Coffey are teammates and Apple Valley star Tre Jones has two Minnesota teammates.