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New Gophers coach Pitino getting interest from recruits

  • Article by: Amelia Rayno
  • Star Tribune
  • April 10, 2013 - 6:47 AM

 

Four days after Richard Pitino stepped in as coach, the Gophers’ recruiting slate was wiped clean.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday evening that Alex Foster, the last remaining Gophers recruit, will not be attending the University of Minnesota this fall.

According to Gopher Illustrated, Foster received a call from “an assistant” said to be Kimani Young, who told the Chicago native that Minnesota plans to move in a different direction.

The news comes after the other 2013 recruit, Foster’s former teammate Alvin Ellis, de-committed last Wednesday before Pitino was hired.

With both out of the picture, Pitino has four scholarships to work with for the upcoming season or could choose to stockpile for next year and the loaded 2014 prep class.

It’s possible that Pitino — who has an entirely different vision for the Gophers than former coach Tubby Smith, who originally recruited Foster — could want to bring his own players, or that he feels their greatest needs lie elsewhere.

The small forward already had received offers from Harvard, Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin, to name a few.

But there are a couple of potential recruits creating buzz.

Rakeem Buckles, who followed Pitino from Louisville to Florida International, and Cameron Forte, a junior college player whom Pitino was recruiting at Florida International, could both be in the picture.

According to Gopher Illustrated’s Zach Johnson, Buckles could be contemplating transferring to Minnesota, which would be the third college. The 6-7, 215-pound power forward played three seasons for Louisville before transferring to FIU last year, but he sat out last season because of a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.

Buckles is expected to graduate this spring. He could apply for a waiver to play in 2013-14 at Minnesota considering his circumstances. Buckles likely wouldn’t transfer until he knows whether he could play immediately, because if he isn’t allowed to, he would need to apply for a sixth season from the NCAA just to play in 2014-15.

If Buckles transferred to Minnesota and was allowed to play in 2013-14, it would be the best of both worlds for the Gophers. Buckles would help fill a hole in the frontcourt with Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram all leaving, but with only one more year of eligibility, he wouldn’t take up any scholarship space for the loaded prep class of 2014.

Forte, on the other hand, has received a lot of attention since playing in the NJCAA Division I national title game with Howard College of Big Spring, Texas, last month. He tweeted on Monday night that Pitino had carried over his FIU scholarship offer to Minnesota, but didn’t indicate whether the move to a Big Ten school would pique his interest.

Forte originally was recruited to Texas Tech, but he left before playing a regular-season game. The 6-6 forward lists his “top colleges” as Georgia, Long Beach State, Colorado State, Pittsburgh and Ole Miss.

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