The Gophers got another nod from a top 2014 recruit on Friday, when New Jersey shooting guard Wade Baldwin narrowed his list to five schools, including Minnesota. He is a three-star recruit ranked No. 117 in the nation overall by Rivals.com.
His official list is, in no order: Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Rutgers and Pittsburgh.
This offseason, Minnesota has certainly been more involved with Northeast recruits than anytime in recent memory, and in this case, one of new coach Richard Pitino’s assistants was a big key.
“It all started out with [Minnesota assistant] coach Dan McHale coming over from Seton Hall. I had a good relationship with him over there and when he came over to Minnesota, he followed the offer,” the 6-3, 180-pound Baldwin said in a phone conversation with the Star Tribune. “Coach Pitino was real thrilled about my game and he’s been in contact with me and my parents pretty frequently and, you know, supporting at all my games.
“…I figured I’d try to come up for a visit and see [everything]. They’ve been showing some loyalty toward me, so I’m going to show some love back.”
Baldwin said he plans to officially visit all five of the schools on his list except for Rutgers, where he ends up going “probably about three times a month” for some reason or another, since it’s only about 10 minutes from his home in Metuchen. His plan is to make his decision sometime in October, although he’s not opposed to just being spontaneous.
“If I like a school when I go out there, and it feels like the place for me, I might just do it right on the spot,” he said.
Baldwin, who hopes to be an athletic director one day, plans to major in either sports management or business marketing, and says that since he has confidence in the solid academics at each of the five schools, a big part of his decision is going to come down to relationships and atmosphere.
“I think just getting down there and seeing how the player-coach relationship is, and then seeing how the campus life is,” he said. “I want to have that enjoyable time in college – obviously I want to go there and win championships and have accolades on the court, but I also want to have a good college life too, so that’s definitely going to play a factor."
What won’t play a factor? Leaving the East Coast, where he grew up and where four of his five schools hover near.
“Actually no – both of my parents are moving away,” he said. “My dad will be in Arizona after I graduate and my mom is going back to Virginia so I’ll be away from Jersey and I’ll pretty much have no home town to go back to.”
Is he in the market for a new home town then?
“Exactly,” he said. “A home for the next four years.”