Minnesota’s “Big Three” of boys’ basketball has become a “Big Two.”
Rashad Vaughn’s family said Monday that he won’t return to Cooper High School for his senior season. The 6-5, 200-pound shooting guard is searching for an out-of-state prep school to finish his high school career.
Vaughn, rated the nation’s 11th best player in the 2014 class by ESPN, is considering Huntington Prep (W.Va.), Findlay Prep (Las Vegas), La Lumiere (Indiana) and Prime Prep (Texas), according to his mentor, Pete Kaffey.
That will leave Tyus Jones of Apple Valley and Reid Travis of DeLaSalle as Minnesota’s two premier high school talents next year. Jones ranks third nationally in ESPN’s latest rankings. Travis ranks 40th.
Gophers coach Richard Pitino has recruited all three standouts. Kaffey said Vaughn’s decision to play at a prep school will have no bearing on his college choice.
Vaughn and Cooper coach Steve Burton could not be reached for comment. Vaughn averaged 28.8 points and 10.2 rebounds as a junior last season for Cooper as the Hawks went 22-6, losing in the section finals.
He showed a willingness to leave Minnesota when he decided to play summer ball for the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Playground Elite team. Jones and Travis played locally for the Howard Pulley squad.
Kaffey, a former Cooper coach, picked his words carefully when explaining Vaughn’s choice to leave the school.
“This is just for his development,” he said. “Cooper has been great to him, but I think moving forward, he wants to be at a place where basketball is part of the school’s main focus.
“I think Rashad’s one of those guys who wants to play against better competition night in and night out. Not saying there’s not better competition in Minnesota; I just know he wants to play against other nationally ranked players consistently every night.”
After last month’s Nike circuit event at High Performance Academy in Eagan, Vaughn’s father, Troy, said his son wants to continue to get better and be a part of a winning program. He said they didn’t know if they would be able get that at Cooper and in the North Suburban Conference.
Kaffey, who spoke to a Gophers coach Monday, said being out of state won’t affect Vaughn’s thinking toward the program.
“I think Pitino and the Gophers staff are thinking about winning a championship,” Kaffey said. “They want you to come and be ready to play right away. The key thing for him, no matter where he goes to college, is developing his game.’’