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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Ben Johnson officially added to Gophers' staff; FIU recruit seeks NLI release

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: April 16, 2013 - 3:41 PM

The point guard who Richard Pitino originally wooed at FIU could potentially soon be available to the Gophers.

Daquein McNeil -- a combo guard who was committed to Pitino at Florida International for next season -- is seeking a release from his letter of intent, according to Matt Bracken, a sports reporter at the Baltimore Sun, who tweeted the following.

McNeil, a three-star recruit according to, is ranked just 93rd in the nation at his position by, but he clearly has some valued talents. Other than FIU, McNeil has received offers from Louisville, Oklahoma, Richmond, Rutgers, VCU and Washington according to

The 6-3, 170-pound guard isn't a true point guard (meaning that the Gophers could be looking to use him elsewhere), but McNeil has a reputation for quickness and seeing the floor well, along with possessing great defensive potential.

Minnesota has four scholarships available after the de-commitments of both Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster.

  • Newly named director of basketball operations Matt Balado is now a candidate for a new assistant coaching position at Florida International, our Michael Rand confirmed with a Minnesota official. FIU just hired former Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans as its new head coach, and Balado — an assistant at FIU under Pitino last year — is in the mix for a higher-ranking job on Evans’ staff. The Gophers wouldn't stand in Balado's way if he decided to pursue that opportunity, the official said.
  • Minnesota officially announced former Gopher Ben Johnson as the newest member of Pitino's staff. "I have been impressed with what I have personally seen and heard from a variety of knowledgeable people when they talk about Ben Johnson," Pitino said in a news release. "In addition to being a proud Minnesota alum, he brings the work ethic I am looking for and a knowledge of the university, the Midwest and the Big Ten Conference."


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