This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Catching up with Lakeville North's J.P. Macura

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches Updated: July 11, 2013 - 5:28 PM

 

Certainly you've heard of the "Big Three" local recruits of Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashad Vaughn. Well, J.P. Macura is the state's OTHER impressive 2014 offering, one that isn't getting quite as much hype due to the elite class he happens to be grouped in with, but has steadily been improving, gaining attention and climbing in the national rankings. The 6-5 shooting guard from Lakeville has made it all the way up to No. 89 nationally in Scout's rankings and lands at No. 126 on Rivals. I caught up with him on the phone this week to chat with him about his recent visit to Minnesota, and what's going on with his recruitment these days.

 

I know you visited Minnesota recently. Tell me what you did on campus. I mainly went to Ben Johnson and the assistants and just hang out with them for a little bit of a day and I went and got some food with them and then went and watched the players lift some weights. And then just shot around with Joey King in the gym for probably about an hour.

Do you know Joey pretty well? Yeah, I know him from basketball. I know him pretty well and I’ve known him for probably like 4 or 5 years.

Is that from AAU? No, from high school basketball.

So did you hang out with all three assistants then? Dan McHale, Ben Johnson and Kimani Young? No, well I got there and it was just me and Ben. We went out to eat and then I talked with the strength trainer guy and then me and Joey just shot afterward. So it was just Ben.

Where did you guys go? Buffalo Wild Wings.

And was coach Richard Pitino around at that time? Did you get to say hi to him or anything? No, I think he was in California.

Have you gotten an offer from them yet or are you still talking at this point? No, I haven’t gotten an offer yet. I’m just still talking to them. They said they’re really interested, they’ve just got to see me play.

Did they talk about coming up to see you play at some point? Yeah, this upcoming tournament in Indianapolis, Pitino is going to be there.

UPDATE: Macura tweeted he was offered by Pitino on Thursday.

Is that going to be a little nerve-wracking for you, knowing that you’re being judged like that? No, I think I’ll be fine. I’ve just got to play basketball and not worry about what colleges are there and try and focus on basketball instead of worrying.

That never helps! Being friends with Joey, does that play into your decision at all? Knowing someone at Minnesota pretty well? I mean, I haven’t played with him before – he’s a good friend of mine but I don’t think it’s going to factor too much. It would be nice to know someone but I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal.

Did you have a chance to meet any of the other players? Were any of them around? The only other person I talked to was Mo.

And you said you talked to Shaun Brown, their strength and conditioning guy. It seems like he’s already having an impact with Mo Walker losing a lot of weight and Charles Buggs gaining a lot of weight. Were there things you talked about that impressed you? We didn’t really talk too much in detail. Ben Johnson just introduced me to him and he seemed like a great guy. So I didn’t really talk too much to him.

OK. You recently took an official to Butler, yes? Yeah, I want to say maybe two weeks ago. It was the week before [Brad Stevens] left [to accept the Celtics job].

Right. So that obviously had a big impact on you – you didn’t see that coming! Oh no, I definitely didn’t see that coming, it was pretty shocking.

So does that kind of start over the process with them for you? Well, they hired coach [Brandon] Miller, he was one of the assistant coaches and I have a good relationship with him. I’m just going to play it out. I still like the new head coach and I think he’s going to do a good job.

OK. So it changes things, but you’re not ruling them out yet. Yeah.

And do you have any other officials planned right now? No, I do not. I’m just going to play July out and then decide right after AAU’s over and try to figure out my other officials then.

Do you have a timeline of when you want to do all your officials? Yeah, I want to try to get some officials done in August and then decide maybe in late August, early September, somewhere around there, whenever I find a school that I really like and that best fits me.

If you had a couple of schools planned to visit and you went to one and you felt like everything felt good there, would you go ahead and make that decision or do you feel like you want to kind of see all your options and then decide after the fact? I kind of want to see all my options and decide after, but if I know for a fact that it’s a school that’s perfect for me then I’ll probably make a decision.

You’ve been gaining a lot of attention as you’ve been improving, and you’re moving on up in the national rankings. Do you feel like we should start a campaign to change the “Big Three” (Tyus Jones, Reid Travis, Rashad Vaughn) nickname to the “Big Four”? Nah, that stuff doesn’t matter to me, I don’t really want to focus too much on that. It’s not a big deal to me.

That’s kind of a rough year for you to be coming out of high school though – a lot of other years and you’d be the No. 1 guy. Yeah. Haha.

Do you know those guys? Have you gotten to have a relationship with any of them? Yeah, I know all of them.

The last time I talked you you had 13 offers. How many new ones do you have now? I think I’m at 22 offers right now.

That’s a pretty big jump. Been a little bit of a crazy couple of months? Yeah, a little bit. A few colleges have been calling and picking up interest and stuff like that.

What are the biggest ones that have jumped on board recently? As far as offering? Well there’s Butler, Kansas State, Florida State, Iowa State, Boston College, Xavier, I think that’s it.

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