No surprise, but now it’s official: the Gophers received National Letters of Intent for both of their current recruits – Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster – for the 2013-14 season.
Ellis, a versatile 6-4 guard from Chicago, will help the Gophers replace senior Julian Welch after he graduates. Ellis, who can play at the point, shooting guard or the small forward positions, scored 42 points in the Illinois Class 4A Regional title game as a junior. He averaged 17 points, 4.2 assists, four rebounds and 2.2 steals a game through the year, and shot 41 percent from three-point range.
The 6-8 Foster will help ease the losses of forwards Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram. The forward averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last year. Foster could play at small or power forward for the Gophers, coach Tubby Smith said.
“That’s what we’ve looking for,” Smith said. “We’ve spent a lot of time recruiting those young men … And losing Trevor and Rodney and Julian and Andre Ingram –we need some size and a lot of athleticism, and those two guys bring that.”
Ellis and Foster are former teammates at Chicago’s DeLaSalle (where Ellis still plays) and have played together on the AAU circuit for Meanstreets.
The Gophers aren’t done, however. They have four scholarships to use for next season, but will likely try to nab just one more, saving an extra spot for a talent-heavy 2014 class.
At the top of Minnesota’s wish list is Gavin Schilling, a 6-9 forward from Chicago (who now plays in Nevada). Schilling has only officially visited Minnesota so far, and has said it’s unlikely he’ll make a decision until the spring. Other schools that have offered include UCLA, Colorado State, Vanderbilt, USC, Marquette and TCU.
Other Gophers notes:
- It sounds like Mbakwe won’t be starting for a while. “He won’t be going to the starting five,” Smith said. “I didn’t say ever, but I don’t see any reason why he would because we’ve got a pretty good team. And I’m more concerned about the chemistry of the team and we’ve got very good chemistry.”
- Smith said he sat down with Charles Buggs’ family and together they decided it would be best for the freshman to redshirt this season. “They agreed that Charles needs to get stronger,” said Smith, who originally signed Buggs before he knew Mbakwe would return.. “And we have limited minutes for him at that position right now.”