Gophers' drought in NBA draft likely to reach a decade

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2014 - 12:08 PM

Since Kris Humphries was selected 14th overall by Utah in 2004, no player from the U has been drafted by the NBA. Coach Richard Pitino is working to change that trend.

hide

Kris Humphries, who played the 2003-04 season for the Gophers, celebrated with his father Bill after being selected 14th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2004 NBA draft. Since then, no U of M player has heard his named called in the NBA draft.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune file photo

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Richard Pitino recruits players, there are three letters he hears more than any single word.

N.B.A.

“It really is what it’s all about,” the 31-year-old Gophers coach said. “They come to Minnesota or any other Big Ten school with aspirations of playing in the NBA. That’s probably their first goal.”

The coach, coming up on his second season, does not yet have a track record at the U to show them.

The same goes for his school, at least as far as teenagers are concerned.

Thursday’s NBA draft is expected to be the 10th consecutive that ends with not one former Gopher called.

Among 14 Big Ten teams — including Maryland and Rutgers, which officially join the conference July 1 — only Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State have longer droughts.

“There is a problem with that,” said Richard Coffey, who played for Minnesota from 1986 to 1990 and whose son, Amir, is a star at Hopkins and a 2016 recruit considering the Gophers. “You’re [in] one of the best conferences in the nation, you should have the ability to somewhat attract those kids.”

The gap is unprecedented in Minnesota history. Since 1957, the Gophers have had 43 players taken in the NBA draft — a total that ranks eighth among Big Ten teams, behind Ohio State and Iowa, with 44 each, and ahead of Wisconsin, with 28. Before 2004, the Gophers had gone no longer than five years without a player drafted.

But after forward Kris Humphries (now with Boston) was taken 14th overall by Utah in 2004, the steady train halted.

Those surrounding the program say Minnesota’s run of insufficient recruiting and an inability to develop talent is at the root.

A lack of big victories isn’t helping the cause either. In this 10-year span, the Gophers have finished higher than sixth in the conference just once (tied for fourth, 2004-05), and have won only one NCAA tournament game.

“The players haven’t been good enough,” said Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves coach and director of basketball operations, and former Gophers guard. “Bottom line is that they’ve kind of been on the edge. The last few years, they really haven’t had what you’d call a marquee, top-line all-conference type player.”

Smith’s style to blame?

Saunders noted that the style of former coach Tubby Smith, who after six years was fired following the 2012-13 season, was not particularly conducive to driving talent to the next level.

“He believed more in the team concept than individuals, so it didn’t really promote those types of players,” Saunders said.

The Gophers can count quite a collection of one-time players in his tenure who were initially thought to possess great NBA potential.

Rodney Williams (2009-13) was projected by many as a lottery pick when he arrived on campus, but his draft stock tumbled dramatically over four years under Smith.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston 3 Top 7th Inning
Baltimore 1
Milwaukee 2 Top 8th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 3 Top 8th Inning
NY Yankees 5
Washington 3 Bottom 7th Inning
Miami 2
Chicago WSox 4 Top 6th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
NY Mets 2 Top 6th Inning
Atlanta 0
Cleveland 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Minnesota 2
Detroit 5 Top 4th Inning
Kansas City 0
Seattle 1 Top 4th Inning
Houston 1
Arizona 1 Top 5th Inning
Colorado 3
Cincinnati 1 Top 5th Inning
St. Louis 2
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7 3rd Qtr
So Florida 14
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close