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

Posts about Recruiting

Tyus Jones will announce his decision on Friday

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: November 12, 2013 - 12:42 PM

Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones will announce his decision on Friday at 3 p.m. at Apple Valley High School, according to his mother, Debbie Jones.

Jones, who is ranked No. 5 in the nation according to Rivals.com, is expected to choose between Duke, Kansas and Baylor. Those are the three remaining schools that both he and Chicago center Jahlil Okafor, who is ranked No. 1, are considering. Jones and Okafor have discussed attending the same school for a couple of years now.

The Gophers are still technically on Jones' list -- and he won't say he's eliminated them -- but the guard landing at Minnesota is beyond an outside chance, as he and Okafor remain serious about being a package deal. The two did their official visits at the schools they are considering together.

"We're pretty positive," said Jones on a Monday night radio appearance on 105 The Ticket. "It's not 100 percent that we're going to the same school, but it's up there pretty close to 100."

Okafor will also be announcing on Friday, at his high school.

Jones will be the second of the local 'Big Three' to commit. Minneapolis power forward Reid Travis committed to Stanford on Friday and shooting guard Rashad Vaughn will wait until the spring.


 

Gophers live chat today at noon

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: November 11, 2013 - 9:40 AM

Good morning folks. Now that the Gophers are firmly rooted in their season -- one game in the rearview, another tomorrow and then the first road trip to Richmond this weekend -- it seems like a good time to chat. Ask away about the schedule ahead, recruiting, the extrememly thin frontcourt now that Mo Walker is gone, why Reid Travis broke your heart on Friday and anything else you've got for me. I might even answer a bigfoot question or two!

I'll be here at noon -- leave questions ahead of time to make sure yours gets in!

Reid Travis is going to Stanford

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: November 8, 2013 - 3:43 PM

Reid Travis will be attending Stanford University.

The power forward, ranked No. 23 in the nation by ESPN.com announced his long-awaited decision in a crowded conference room at De La Salle High School on Friday, which is also the Gophers season opener.

Travis is the first of the local 'Big Three' -- including Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn -- to make his college decision.

Travis was also considering the Gophers and until this morning, Duke.

More to come soon on this blog and on Startribune.com.

Gophers target Reid Travis making his decision today

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: November 8, 2013 - 1:27 PM

The time has come.

With the fall signing period just around the corner, the first of the 2014 local 'Big Three' -- Reid Travis, Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn -- has staged an announcement.

For Travis, the big news will be unveiled on Friday afternoon at 3:30 at De La Salle High School. The senior tweeted out an invitation to the public on Monday.

The event will be streamed live on WCCO.com.

Travis is deciding between Stanford and Minnesota. According to Ryan James at Rivals.com, Duke has been eliminated.

He would be the fourth Gophers recruit for the 2014 class, joining guards Nate Mason and Carlos Morris and forward Josh Martin.

It would be an incredibly momentous get for Minnesota, who has only been recruiting Travis for a little more than six months. When the new staff arrived in Minneapolis, they were not expected to land any of the three.

aMAILiaBAG: Reid Mania, Gophers opener excitement and whether Deandre Mathieu looks like Rodney Williams' little brother

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: November 7, 2013 - 1:24 PM

To submit questions for future aMAILiaBAGs, email me at amelia.rayno@startribune.com or reply to me on Twitter @AmeliaRayno using the hashtag #aMAILiaBAG.

Plenty to talk about today with tomorrow turning up to be a double header – ESPN five-star recruit, De La Salle’s Reid Travis, will be making his decision in the afternoon, and then the Gophers have their season opener against Lehigh at night (tipoff at 7 p.m.).

To recap, Travis is choosing between Stanford, Minnesota and Duke. He is the first of the Minnesota ‘Big Three’ recruits – including Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn – to make a decision. It’s happening at 3:30 in the De La Salle gym. You can read my Wednesday story on the Big Three here and watch my video with Michael Rand talking about Travis, among other Gophers topics, here.

I got a small avalanche of questions about Travis – no surprise here – so let’s get to it.

If I DIDN’T get to your question (or even if I did!), you can show up to my live chat on Monday at noon. I’ll take plenty more then.

Your questions in bold; my answers in regular type.

What's your 'gut' telling you re: Reid's announcement?

@ebart13

As I predicted in my Wednesday insider, I think Travis is heading to … nowhere. In other words, I think he’s staying here and going to the University of Minnesota. In his backyard, basically, since his family lives on the edge of Gophers campus. Minnesota’s staff has made a great push in the last several weeks, and Travis has been around the university quite a bit. The tides have shifted, and for once, they appear to be shifting away from places like Duke and Stanford.

And those of you that are putzing around, grumbling to yourself that new coach Richard Pitino had better get at least one of the three (I know you’re out there, hiding in the corners of the internet, because I see your goofy comments on Twitter and on the blogs) should wake up and realize what an incredible accomplishment that would be. For the new staff at Minnesota – a program in transition without a lot of recent success to boast – to get one of the top recruits in the nation after pursuing him for just six months? That would be a major achievement. To the Gophers fans that couldn’t enjoy it because they’re so busy expecting ridiculous things, I shake my head.

In your honest opinion, do you think Gophers go 3/3? 2/3? 1/3? 0/3 [on the Big Three]?

@MattyB_MPLS

Right now, I’m saying they go 1/3, getting Travis and striking out on the other two. Vaughn is the wild card of the bunch, though. Since he isn’t signing until the spring, there is so much that can happen in his recruitment.

If Reid commits on Friday, do you think that increases our chances of getting Rashad or Tyus..I know Tyus is long shot.

@bonehead267

I don’t think it has any effect at all. Jones is deciding in mere days. Travis staying home isn’t going to sway something that has been in the works for years. And yes, there’s still a chance that Vaughn comes to the Gophers, but Travis agreeing to play for the home state school wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He’s going to make whatever decision he deems best for him individually. And those three guys have only talked of playing together in passing. Remember when Vaughn switched AAU teams, away from Travis and Jones? I don’t think those three are looking for an excuse to play together, necessarily.

Is the @Reid_Travis_22 announcement on Friday open to the Public? #Gophers

@bportnoe

It appears that way, as Travis tweeted an invitation out to the Twitter world. I’m sure he knows that means a lot of Gopher fans will show up.

Hey @AmeliaRayno if Reid commits Friday, gophs are out of scholarships. Guesses on how we free up 1 for Vaughn or stop recruiting him?

@Kbzee21

Well, Minnesota certainly won’t just suddenly stop recruiting him, not if the Gophers believe they have any real shot with him. The issue of a scholarship is a cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-to-it type deal. You guys all need to stop worrying so much about it. I don’t envision a scenario where Vaughn says “I’m going to Minnesota” and the Gophers scuffle their shoes awkwardly and cut in “Um, sorry, no room at the inn.”

True or false: Dre Mathieu looks like Rodney Williams little brother? #aMAILiaBAG

@los_jim

Hmm … I had never thought about it. I guess one could argue that. I put them side-by-side below … what do you guys think?

Vaughn plays in Nevada right? How is he still a Minnesota guy? And picking ISU over U makes him dead to me.

@jiltfast

He’s still a Minnesota guy because that’s where he’s from and that’s where he grew up. Just because I left North Carolina and moved up north didn’t mean I automatically became a Massachusetts girl, or a Minnesota girl for that matter.

… And he hasn’t picked Iowa State, or any school yet.

… And in general, I’d cool it on the “dead to me” talk. People forget that these recruits are still in high school, and they’re trying to make the best decisions for their futures, even if it doesn’t involve the team you personally root for.

What is up with Buggs' lack of minutes?

@xjGophers

He’s extremely raw. Pitino likes his ultimate upside, but he has a lot of work to do to be a productive member of the rotation. He didn’t play at all last season, and he still has a ways to go both physically and skills-wise. Be patient.

The new coach and his “system” is exciting basketball, clearly.  I am very happy having a young guy like him at the helm.  However, one would think it will continue to be difficult for Minnesota to “bag” the top end recruit, at least from a standpoint for  those players that are “ranked” really  high, since the competitive (even in just the BIG) programs recruit the same guys.  What is your opinion on b-passing the big names, and aggressively go after  the “fit”, which is likely going to be Pitino's strategy going forward anyway?  Are there any strong examples (In the BIG 6 Conferences) where coaching, and development of players, has off set the “Giant Class Getters”?  Or, do we need to get those Big names to become really competitive in the BIG and National scene?

Troy

Central Cal

I think it’s a combination of both. Pitino has gone hard after guys that fit the system, even if they aren’t as highly recruited as some. Deandre Mathieu, Nate Mason and Carlos Morris are good examples of that. At the same time, an elite prospect – if he also fits the system – can advance a program very quickly. There is a reason that these guys are ranked so highly; some of them can be program changers.

With the way Mo has re dedicated his conditioning/play, is it realistic to think he could at some start at some point?

@NOELTHOMPSON

Definitely. Pitino has already said that he would consider starting Mo Walker, and has noted that there isn’t much difference, talent-wise, between him and Eliason right now. I think in general, he will use the pair in tandem, because he likes the idea of keeping them fresh and the fact that they do slightly different things.

But certainly, both Pitino and Walker have made it clear that the big man is capable of taking a big step and a starting role this year.

BONUS BIGFOOT QUESTION:

Not really a question, but advice: don't go on Sasquatch hunts in Oklahoma.

@RandBallsStu

Holy Buckets; that is unfortunate.

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