Rayno: Minnesota hoping men's basketball recruiting heats up soon
- Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
- April 17, 2014 - 10:11 AM
Rarely do programs experience a flurry of new recruits in the spring, but that's just what Minnesota is hoping for this season.
The Gophers still have three scholarships remaining for the 2014 class and just more than a month to fill them. The late signing period began on Wednesday and ends May 21.
There are a couple of critical items on the checklist.
Foremost, Minnesota is in need of size. With centers Elliott Eliason and Mo Walker each looking at their last year of eligibility and the power forward position further thinned by the early retirement of Oto Osenieks, the Gophers covet depth and future stability at both positions.
It also wouldn't hurt to add a versatile guard/wing to a corps that loses Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi this season. The Gophers are stacked at the point guard spot, with DeAndre Mathieu, Andre Hollins and Nate Mason all able to play the position but could use another option to come off the bench for shooting guard or small forward spots.
The trick is finding the clams amongst the shells. After a furious fall, the pickings are much slimmer in the spring, but it doesn't mean there aren't gems to be had.
Six-nine power forward Gaston Diedhiou, who currently plays in the Canary Islands of Spain, committed last week but has not yet signed. The Gophers anticipate his National Letter of Intent within the next day or two. Like most overseas players, Diedhiou, who originally hails from Senegal, will likely come to Minnesota very raw and certainly very unheralded.
Bakary Konate, a big man from Kansas by way of his home country of Mali, is still Minnesota's top prospect although he appears to be to flexing his options. Konate will officially visit Tulane this weekend according to rivals.com's Ryan James, who first reported the trip. While some have said a Minnesota commitment seems near, Konate has publicly said he has no timetable for a decision between his top schools, which include Creighton and Texas A&M (Minnesota Daily's Jace Frederick also reported Oklahoma as part of that mix).
An option for another wing type player could be Justin Martin, a 6-6 soon-to-be graduate who announced last week he would transfer out of Xavier for his final season of eligibility. The forward averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last season while averaging 37.3 percent of his shots from three-point range. He would be eligible right away via the graduate transfer rule.
New targets could emerge in the next couple of weeks as well. With a direct path to Division I looking more and more unlikely for Djuan Piper, the Gophers could turn their sights elsewhere. Right now, there isn't a ton of buzz in the way of guards.
A few other notes:
*Former Gophers guard Wally Ellenson intends to transfer elsewhere in order to compete in both basketball and high jumping, his mother, Holly Ellenson told the Star Tribune. Among the schools he's pursuing: Texas Tech, where Tubby Smith has again offered his former recruit, and Baylor.
*Minnesota video coordinator Casey Stanley has accepted an assistant coaching job at UNC-Wilmington under newly hired head coach (and former Louisville assistant) Kevin Keatts. Stanley worked for Pitino for two years, dating back to Florida International.
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