Paul White, a four-star recruit ranked No. 51 in the nation by Rivals and No. 57 by ESPN, is one of the forwards the Gophers have their eye on. At 6-8, he certainly has the size to play power forward, but with good handle and range to play the wing. White has gotten a slew of offers including a bunch from Big Ten schools: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern Purdue, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Minnesota scholarship offer originated from Tubby Smith and Co., but new coach Richard Pitino quickly carried it over after getting the job. One concern – the forward has made a habit of getting dinged up a bit with various injuries – and then at Peach Jam, he gruesomely broke his arm in a game against Howard Pulley. I caught up with him before the injury to talk a little bit about his recruitment.
How much does the coaching change alter Minnesota’s recruitment for you? Is it kind of like starting over? I mean, his family is known for success. Obviously his father just won the national championship and he was telling me about what he’s going to do with his program and how he’s going to bring in a future, a future to Minnesota. He said he’s looking for the class of 2014 to be a real big class for him. I’m honored that he wanted me to be a part of that.
How much more interesting does it make it that he is a Pitino? Obviously he’s a young coach with just a year of head coaching experience. But to hear that name … It’s a little interesting because you also can’t help the fact that you’re going to compare and contrast. I really don’t know Rick Pitino that well, but from what I see on the TV he seems like a real intense dude. So I feel he may have carried that over to his son. But it’s kind of fun to see because you want to see a legendary coach, what his son is going to do. It’s going to be interesting.
Do you plan to narrow your list soon? Probably. It’s probably going to be around five or six. I really don’t know exactly when, it’s probably going to be after Peach Jam, sometime after Peach Jam.
Want to give us any hints? Is Minnesota going to be on that list? I can’t make any promises, but if coach Pitino keeps hitting me up, I mean, it’s a good chance.
Do you have any officials set up right now? No officials. I plan on doing officials probably August.
What do you like about Minnesota? It’s a Big Ten team. I grew up in the Big Ten, being from Illinois, from Chicago – I mean, I was rooting for Illinois but you would always see Minnesota in the mix. And it seems like the past few years they’ve been making a real good push for the NCAA tournament and doing some good things with their players. So I’m looking for coach Pitino to probably enhance what they were doing to begin with and probably give it a fresh new start. … The one thing that the Big Ten [schools] have in common is how hard the players work and stuff like that. I believe I’m a pretty hard worker, I keep a good work ethic and if I went to the Big Ten I feel like I wouldn’t miss a step.
A few other recruiting notes …
- Alex Robinson, a point guard from Texas, said the schools pursuing him the hardest include Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Miami, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. He talks to Minnesota 4-5 times a week, he said, and noted that the fast-paced system is one of the lures. Robinson, ranked No. 71 on Rivals, plans to do officials in August, but hasn’t said which ones.
- Terry Larrier, a 6-8 forward from Pennsylvania said he plans to narrow his list in September and make a decision sometime in November or December. Other schools aside from Minnesota recruiting Larrier, who is ranked No. 38 on Rivals include, Arizona, UConn, Maryland, Miami, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and VCU.
- Richard Pitino and assistant Dan McHale are currently at the NIKE Global Challenge in DC watching the “Big Three” locals – Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashad Vaughn -- as well as Ja’Quan Newton. McHale was in Philadelphia earlier this week to watch Kaleb Joseph, a point guard from Massachusetts.
- Another the Gophers are interested in: shooting guard Wade Baldwin. The 6-3 scorer is at the NY2LA summer jam in Milwaukee right now. The Gophers offered in the spring.