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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Gophers ink three players at the start of the fall signing period

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players, Recruiting Updated: November 13, 2013 - 6:43 PM

Today was the start of the fall signing period, and as expected the Gophers signed forward Josh Martin (Seattle), and guards Nate Mason (Georgia) and JUCO Carlos "Squirrel" Morris for the 2014 class.

The Gophers still have one scholarship available for 2014 which they could use to sign a fourth player in the spring signing period, or save for 2015.

Pitino talked to the media today after all the papers were official. Here are a few notes on what he said:

  • Pitino noted Martin's "unbelievable motor" that "never stops" as one of the things that drew him to the forward. He plans to start Martin at power forward and possibly develop him into a wing over time. Playing at small forward is something that Martin has publicly said he hopes to do, and his athleticism and shooting ability make the move a realistic option.
  • Pitino called Mason "a steal," after the Gophers were able to come into his recruitment late and get a commitment. He cited his shooting ability, speed and versatility as aspects Minnesota liked about Mason, who Pitino said could play at the point or at shooting guard.
  • When Morris originally signed with South Carolina, in 2012, Pitino remembers noticing and thinking that the Gamecocks "got a good one." Later, when he decommitted [when it was clear coach Darrin Horn was on the hot seat], Pitino was intrigued. "With a guy like Squirrel, we believed, OK, he’s definitely good enough basketball-wise and now as a person, he’s as good as it gets and his mom is a great lady," Pitino said. "So we’re excited about him."
  • Pitino said one of the bigger difficulties of recruiting after coming in late is that no one knows you. "Nobody knows your brand, nobody knows your style, certainly they’re not watching a lot of FIU basketball just because we didn’t have a lot of TV games. We didn’t make the tournament. So it’s just a lot of unknown ... But the greatest recruiting tool is what we do this year and in the future as well."
  • Mason and Martin will probably play right away, coming in as freshmen, rather than redshirting, Pitino said. Martin, he said -- while having some things in common with Joey King -- brings something new to the program. Mason he envisions as a bit of an "Andre Hollins" type.
  • On what he "sells" to recruits: I think the biggest thing that we do talk about is certainly style of play. Being a guy who only coached last year. We talk ok, listen guys, we’re going to play very similar to Louisville. And Louisville won a national title so we can certainly talk about that. We can talk about the university of Florida and the similarities there. So I think we can kind of reference that a little bit. And then we certainly talk about the great fan support that we have here. We talk about playing in what we believe is the best conference in all of college basketball. So the good thing is, regardless of me and the staff and the brand that we’re trying to build, we do have a lot of things to hang our hat on."
  • Ever since Martin committed, the high school senior has been active in reaching out to other prospects the Gophers are talking with, and pumping his new school on Twitter. Pitino laughed. "I do think the players normally do the best job in recruiting," he said.

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