The Minnesota staff has to feel good about its 2015 recruiting efforts. Finally, there will be an element of normalcy to the class that will begin to sign this autumn.
Richard Pitino's first class, after being hired at Minnesota last April, was scrapped together in the matter of a month and a half. His second -- the recently completed 2014 group -- was made up of a half a dozen players, but also slightly rushed. The great majority of elite recruits sign during the fall signing period, by November. Last year at that time, Pitino had been in Minnesota for about eight months, a comparably diminutive amount of time to identify, woo and ultimately get commitments from top targets.
But this next class, one made up athletes who are currently juniors in high school, will be something to hold up and examine; to judge -- fairly -- the new coach's recruiting pull and effectiveness for the the first time.
Part of such success requires finding under-the-radar talent that can grow and develop within the confines of their program; part of it means, eventually, landing a headline-popping player or two.
As the recruiting season heats up along with weather in places outside of Minnesota, the Gophers have shown they intend to cast a wide net: dipping into the lesser known puddles for untapped potential as well as plunging into the pool with the bluebloods to fight for prize-winning catches.
Among those targets:
PG: Jarvis Johnson, Desure Buie
Noteworthy: Johnson, the speedy quick DeLaSalle standout, was among Minnesota's first 2015 offers and the staff would love for him to stay home and take the reins from DeAndre Mathieu after his eligibility runs up at the end of last season. Landing the bright floor general would qualify as a huge "get" for Minnesota (and it's first 4-star since 2009 when the Gophers had a 4 (Rodney Williams) and a 5 (Royce White), according to rivals.com ... Buie is another option Minnesota has kept its eye on for a while. The slender 3-star from the Bronx has picked up a bevy of offers from mid-and-low major schools but schools at the next level seem slightly hesitant ... Minnesota is no longer recruiting Jalen Adams.
SG: Jimmy Whitt, Sacar Anim, Allonzo Trier, Kain Harris, Eric Davis, KJ Walton, Dupree McBrayer
Noteworthy: There is no shortage of depth at this position and Minnesota is perusing plenty of options. The Gophers have extended offers to (4-stars) Whitt, Trier, Davis and (3-stars) Harris and Walton. Trier and Davis are both top-40 players and Minnesota will have plenty of competition there ... Whitt is the most recent to receive a scholarship, getting the nod on Saturday ... Anim has been on the Gophers' radar from early on because of proximity and recruiting other players at DeLaSalle, but the 6-4 guard hasn't yet developed into a dominant presence ... McBrayer's recruitment is just starting to heat up.
SF: Danjel Purifoy, Tyler Kohl, Jordan Murphy, Chris Clarke
Noteworthy: Pitino is recruiting a bunch of athletic wings who can drive or shoot -- all of these guys fit that description, all of them have offers on the table ... Purifoy, who is ranked 38th nationally according to ESPN.com, is probably the most elite of the foursome and combines efficiency and power for a lethal offensive attack ... the 6-6 Clarke is extremely versatile defensively, able to potentially guard three or four positions on the floor ... Contrary to reports Minnesota is not recruiting Brandon Ingram.
PF: Alex Illikainen, Ed Morrow, Jarred Reuter, Cody Schwartz
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids' star Illikainen is one of the Gophers' top targets of any position. The 6-8 stretch-four can shoot from anywhere as well as play under the basket, though his post moves remain raw ... The Gophers recently extended offers to Morrow and Reuter, both of whom are starting to get attention from some big name schools ... Minnesota have been watching Schwartz, a three-star, but haven't offered yet.
C: Akolda Manyang, Doral Moore, Diamond Stone
Noteworthy: The Gophers have gotten involved early with a pair of elite five-star centers in 6-11 Moore (ranked 16th nationally according to rivals.com) and 6-10 Stone (ranked third). The trouble for Minnesota is, the rest of the country -- including a slew of first-class programs. It appears the Gophers are going after Moore -- about as athletic as you get with a 7-footer -- the hardest of the two ... there is also Manyang, a 7-footer at the JUCO named preseason No. 1 a year ago. The Indian Hills CC player, who competed at Duluth East in high school, is being courted by Oklahoma, Minnesota and Arizona State.