Last week, I reported that Georgia Tech (indirectly) and Oregon (directly) reached out to Gophers coach Tubby Smith.
The Georgia Tech rumors died when Paul Hewitt announced his decision to stay with the Yellow Jackets after reportedly turning down an offer from St. John's.
But the Oregon rumors continue, as some reports suggest that the school has continued to pursue Smith in recent days.
Multiple people close to Smith, however, told me that they believe he will coach the Gophers next season.
"[Smith isn't] going anywhere," one person close to Smith said Tuesday. "Period."
The same person said Smith told him that he has not discussed Oregon's opening with that school's officials.
"I don't know if they've offered," the source said. "Tubby says he hasn't spoken with them. He's happy here."
Another person close to the coach said Smith told his players that he "looks forward to coaching" them next season and emphasized that "he's not going anywhere" during a private meeting last week.
As I reported last week, Oregon super-booster Phil Knight likes Smith. Oregon's in a situation where it just lost its lone minority coach, spurring speculation that the university will seek a minority candidate to replace Ernie Kent. Plus, Oregon has the multimillion-dollar facilities that the Gophers lack.
That said, the people I've talked to believe Smith will stay.
Well, Smith kind of said the same thing a few weeks ago.
"Obviously, it's just talk, because I'm very pleased with what we've accomplished here," Smith said in response to a question about rumors linking him to Auburn following the Gophers' first-round loss in the NCAA tournament. "I'm pleased with where we are in the program. I'm looking forward to coming back to Minnesota."
Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said the university is "committed [to] Tubby remaining at Minnesota," when asked about a possible contract extension for Smith, who has four years remaining on his current seven-year deal.
Disclaimer: Smith is a coach. Sometimes, coaches change their minds. Don't take this blog as a guarantee. Smith might leave. But those close to him believe he will stick with his current gig.
Then again, Boston College needs a coach, after parting ways with Al Skinner Tuesday. An ACC school on the East Coast ... Uh oh. ... Here we go, again.
As always, stay tuned.
-The Gophers still believe Trevor Mbakwe is innocent of the felony assault charges he's facing in Miami. A person familiar with the situation said Mbakwe, who missed the entire 2009-10 season due to his legal issues, believes the charges against him will be dropped soon, allowing him to return to the team.
The Gophers haven't had the same patience with Royce White, who withdrew from the university before he ever suited up for the team.
With the spring signing period for the 2010 class starting April 14, the Gophers are looking for more frontcourt options.
Smith is pursuing Maurice Walker, a 6-10, 270-pound center from Canada, and junior college forward Dwight McCombs, as possible additions, while time runs out on White's opportunity to return to the program.
Walker, who played with Gophers guard Devoe Joseph and high-profile recruit Cory Joseph on the Grassroots Canada AAU squad, will take an official visit to Minnesota April 9, according to scout.com. Walker led Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to the national prep school championship earlier this month.
He has scholarship offers from Virginia, Marquette, Kansas, Seton Hall and Minnesota.
Walker told scout.com that he might commit to the Gophers at the end of his upcoming official visit.
“I’m more leaning toward Minnesota right now," he said during a recent interview with scout.com. "I like Tubby Smith as a coach. I like that I have family out there. It’s an up and coming program. It’s possible I could commit during the visit.
“The other schools have a chance. But if I go to Minnesota and like what they offer, then I'll commit."
The Gophers will host McCombs, a 6-8, 240-pound forward from Moraine Valley (IL) Community College, April 16, according to scout.com. He was a forceful rebounder and shot-blocker in junior college. McCombs started out at Miami (Ohio). He has offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Penn State and Minnesota.
Both guys could help the Gophers in the paint right away.
The Gophers have four scholarships available for their upcoming class, assuming White doesn't come back. Two will be used on 6-4 shooting guard Austin Hollins (Germantown, Tenn.) and 6-11 center Elliott Eliason (Chadron, Neb.). Hollins and Eliason might redshirt next season.
-The No. 1 guy on the Gophers' wish list is still Cory Joseph, one of the top high school players in America. Joseph won the McDonald's All-America three-point shooting contest Monday night.
He's reportedly held his own (no surprise) during practice sessions for Wednesday's All-America game.
"The other observation of note during the West's limited scrimmage time was the defensive prowess of Cory Joseph," said Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer about scrimmage between the game's East and West squads.
-While rumors swirled over the weekend, Smith recruited. Branden Dawson, a 6-6 junior shooting guard from Gary, Ind., had a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) in Lew Wallace's loss to Washington in the Indiana state playoffs over the weekend. Smith watched the Gophers recruit from the stands.