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

Notes from Peach Jam: Tyus Jones, Reid Travis, other Gophers targets

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: July 15, 2013 - 3:03 PM

Over the weekend, I was lucky to get the awesome opportunity to head down to North Augusta, S.C., for this year’s EYBL Finals at the NIKE Peach Jam. With so many coaches, recruits and media members in one spot, there may not be a better venue for collecting information and catching everyone at once. From Thursday night through Saturday night, here are a few of the nuggets I picked up:

The Gophers’ main targets:

  • Two of the “Big Three” were there in Tyus Jones and Reid Travis. While Apple Valley’s Jones has long looked like a foregone conclusion to end up elsewhere, the sense is that Travis is seriously considering Minnesota. No doubt there are plenty of schools in play for DeLaSalle’s 6-7 power forward, but he is probably the most likely of the three to end up staying home. Former Robbinsdale Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn was in Philadelphia, playing in the Reebok Breakout Invitational, where the Minnesota staff flew to watch him a couple of times. With Vaughn transferring to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas last week, however, it certainly doesn’t help Minnesota’s chances of snagging him.
  • Looking ahead to 2015, there were two at the Peach Jam that the Gophers seem very interested in. DeLaSalle’s Jarvis Johnson, of course, plays for Howard Pulley and has come up behind Travis. Johnson is developing a long-range shot and is only getting better. What’s more, he seems really interested in Minnesota, whose new staff is jumping in at a very good time in his recruitment. New Gophers coach Richard Pitino wasted no time showing Johnson they’re serious, offering him a scholarship just days after getting the job – and that can only help as the interest in the point guard builds.
  • The other 2015 kid is Elijah Thomas, who plays for Team Texas Elite and goes to school at Prime
    Prep Academy in Dallas. The sense is that the Gophers are highly interested in the big man and are going after him hard. Thomas, who is ranked No. 9 in his class by Rivals and No. 5 by ESPN, is one of a handful of 2015 players that the Gophers have offered. The rising junior dominated during the regular EYBL season – even while battling a fractured finger – and didn’t slow down much at Peach Jam, averaging 12 points and 7.4 rebounds in five games. The 6-9 power forward has a great defensive presence and is very efficient in the paint. He could be a very interesting part of the Gophers’ frontcourt future.
     
  • There’s been substantial hype about Ja’Quan Newton since the Gophers started recruiting him after Pitino took the job. And down at the Peach Jam, the tough Philadelphia point guard did not disappoint. Newton looked nothing short of outstanding, aggressively going at the basket, going off for 30 points in one game and averaging 18 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds over his final five games at the Peach Jam. But the tidbit that has controlled the news lately is that he and five-star recruit Isaiah Whitehead are in talks about teaming up at the same college, wherever that might be. Currently, Minnesota – which seems to be very high on the pair – is on the list of programs that have offered both. That list, of course, is only growing now that the possibility of Newton and Whitehead being a package deal has emerged.

Other recruits the Gophers are after:

  • There are a few other point guards the Gophers have their eye on, and two of them were at Peach Jam. Alex Robinson (Arlington, Texas) might be one of the quieter interviews out there, but he is impressive as a floor general, passing with ease and knocking down shots. Robinson is ranked at No. 71 on Rivals and No. 89 on ESPN. Lourawls Nairn Jr. (Bel Aire, Kan.), is super quick and his instinctive passes can shake up defenses if they’re not ready for him. The 5-10, sturdy guard has offers from Arkansas, Creighton, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Mississippi and Oklahoma right now. Rivals has him at No. 61.
  • Others: Paul White – the Chicago power forward is drawing more attention and is up to No. 57 in ESPN national rankings now, but the 6-8 White has proven to be unlucky. In a Friday game against Howard Pulley, White went up to contest a Travis shot at the basket and fell awkwardly, gruesomely breaking his arm. Josh Cunningham – Though a bit undersized, the 6-7, 180-pound power forward isn’t afraid to claim his spot under the basket and get all over the boards. Terry Larrier – the Bronx forward doesn’t have the best court demeanor, but he does have plenty of skill, length and explosiveness. He’s getting plenty of offers, and he’s made it up to 59th in the country in ESPN rankings.

**Much more on these recruits to come in the days ahead**

A few other notes:

  • Two recruits that Minnesota could be easing up on: Tyler Ulis. While the Chicagoan was fantastic at the Peach Jam – dueling against Tyus Jones in one of the most fun matchups to watch on Friday – the word is that Ulis is close to committing to Michigan State. Also, Abdul Malik Abu – while the Gophers offered the power forward early, his recruitment was already pretty far along and now the field has only become more crowded – and it seems the Gophers are turning the bulk of their attention elsewhere.
  • I ran into former Gophers Tubby Smith, now at Texas Tech, on Friday. He said that he and his wife Donna were settling into a “warmer and dustier” home and reiterated that coaching at Minnesota is a much tougher job than most think.
  • Go here for all player stats from the Peach Jam.

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Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
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New Jersey 0
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Minnesota 2
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Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
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Louisiana 115
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Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
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Texas Tech 101
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Chicago State 60 FINAL
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Nebraska Omaha 92
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UNLV 75
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Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
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Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
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Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
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Appalachian St 72
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Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60

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