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.

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Recent Big Ten interest intrigues Gophers PG target Riley LaChance

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: September 17, 2013 - 1:34 PM

Wisconsin high school point guard Riley LaChance’s options have certainly opened up recently, and very soon – even with the expanding opportunities – decisions will be made.

The Gophers, having recently jumped back on board with the Brookfield native, could be in that mix. His high school coach, Mark Adams, said that LaChance has scheduled an official visit – his third total – with Minnesota for this weekend, when Josh Martin will also be in town.

LaChance’s recruitment expanded significantly over the summer after impressing on the AAU circuit in July and turning heads in Las Vegas. Adams said that is a testament to the hard work that LaChance has put into his game.

“I think since our season ended in March, his athleticism has really picked up,” Adams said. “His offensive game has gotten to a little bit of another level because he’s incorporated a step-back move and he’s got a little bit of a one-hand tear drop that, during the season, we don’t necessarily have a lot of time to work on, and he’s done that on his own.

“A coach and I were walking around an AAU event that had been at a live gym last year and he just said ‘Boy, coach, he’s a whole lot more athletic than he was last fall.'”

In chatting with LaChance over the weekend, he seemed very open to the resurgence of Minnesota, the first Big Ten school to offer him, although Iowa extended an offer over the weekend and Michigan State also recently began getting involved. On Friday, LaChance drove with Adams and his father and AAU coach, Tom LaChance to East Lansing for an unofficial visit, where he scrimmaged against fellow Gopher PG recruit, Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who was there on an official.

LaChance has also visited Butler (which was also in Brookfield for a home visit last week) unofficially and officially, gone to Creighton and Vanderbilt (which visited LaChance in-home on Monday night). LaChance originally had a visit scheduled to Baylor this weekend, but withdrew the Bears from his short list over the weekend. On the way back from Michigan State, he got a call from Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery – who has been involved with LaChance’s recruitment to some extent since his freshman year.

The Gophers staff had first reached out to LaChance in the spring, but had backed off a bit while going harder after a bevy of other 2014 point guards. Now, with Ja’Quan Newton committing to Miami, Kaleb Joseph committing to Syracuse, Alex Robinson committing to Texas A&M, Minnesota becoming less interested in Josh Perkins (who eventually committed to Gonzaga) and competition increasing with Nairn, the heat has turned up. Such is the case with college recruiting. Coach Richard Pitino called last week to offer LaChance.

After a combination of programs missing initial targets and LaChance’s incredible summer – improving, Adams said, by “leaps and bounds” – the floor general’s recruitment has taken off.

The 6-2 LaChance, who Adams calls a legitimate “gym rat,” said he did a lot of core workouts and speed and agility drills over the summer. He spends most of his free time shooting in one of the two church gyms that his father has keys to in Brookfield.

“Because at the next level, guys are bigger, stronger, faster,” LaChance said. “That’s a big thing in my development and in my improvement all around and that obviously translate onto the court as well.”

Before the Michigan State trip, LaChance told me his short list of favorites included Creighton, Vanderbilt, Butler, Baylor, Minnesota and Michigan State. Now, Baylor is obviously crossed off that list and Adams assures me that Iowa is firmly in the mix. Vanderbilt, Butler and Creighton have put in the most time, with the latter jumping in first, LaChance said. But with Big Ten interest percolating in the last two weeks, LaChance is extremely interested in those options, Adams said – particularly Iowa and Minnesota, with their proximity to home.

“That really comes into play,” the coach said.

Michigan State still hasn’t offered, although coach Tom Izzo had a conversation with LaChance in his office during his unofficial visit, telling him he was “very interested” still, Adams says. The Spartans could be at open gym at Brookfield on Thursday.

LaChance doesn't have a lot of time to consider all of his new possibilities. The point guard has not set up an official with Iowa yet, but is in talks and could make it his fourth at the end of this month or the beginning of October. But LaChance has made it clear he wants to make his decision at least by the middle of October -- before the high school basketball season begins.

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