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Local talent in 2018 class dominates Gophers' attention

Even as the signing period for 2017 recruits approaches later this fall (Nov. 9-16), much of the remaining summer will be about 2018 recruits for the Gophers. Minnesota’s coaching staff expects to snag two prospects for the 2017 class but the following year, the Gophers will have five more scholarships available to give with the eligibilities of Nate Mason, Bakary Konate, Gaston Diedhiou, Reggie Lynch and Davonte Fitzgerald all expiring.

The Gophers will have to address a few needs: if a point guard isn’t signed this fall, nabbing one for the 2018 class will likely be a priority. Otherwise, Minnesota will be in dire need of bodies in the post with all three big men (Konate, Diedhiou and Lynch) leaving simultaneously. Some experience could go a long way there, so don’t be surprised if the Gophers go the JUCO or graduate transfer route if intriguing possibilities open up. For now, Richard Pitino and Co. are honing in on a loaded group of local high school juniors who could fit in with the Gophers' pick-and-roll offense and the pressuring defensive style the fourth-year coach hopes to play.

Here’s a look at a few of Minnesota’s top targets:

The locals:

Tre Jones – Just as it did with older brother Tyus, the hype surrounding this point guard is beginning to reach a fever pitch as he enters his junior season. Currently the 6-1 Tre Jones is ranked 54th in ESPN’s rankings for the class, but his game has time to develop yet. Jones stands out defensively and has exhibited an eye for passing lanes, much like his brother. Rumors that he’d like to attend college close to Tyus – who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves – give the Gophers a chance, but also like Tyus, the believed favorite suitor for Tre is Duke.

Race Thompson – The son of Darrell Thompson – the Gophers’ all-time leading rusher in football – the   6-8 Plymouth native’s athleticism is obvious, but Race Thompson is primed to show it off at the next level in a different sport. Thompson, who has also played football at Robbinsdale Armstrong, has enviable guard skills in a bigger frame, both of which could serve him well in the Big Ten. He also has offers from Iowa State, Kansas State, Marquette and Nebraska, among others.

Adam Trapp – It doesn’t take much guess work to understand why the Gophers – and other regional schools like Iowa, DePaul and Wisconsin – are interested in Trapp. At 7-2, he’s one of the tallest recruits to come out of Minnesota in a while. Trapp, who at 200 pounds still needs to do a lot of growing outwards, runs the floor well for his size and has a decent handle on the ball. The biggest learning curve will come in the Esko native learning to battle in the paint.

Jarvis Thomas-Omersa – The up-and-coming 6-7 St. Paul power forward is garnering interest from some mid-major schools along with Minnesota and Iowa State, in large part because of potential he shows as a shot-blocker who is developing some solid moves in the post.

Daniel Oturu – Minnesota offered the 6-9 power forward this spring, joining the likes of Northern Iowa, Providence and Creighton. The St. Paul native, at just over 200 pounds, is lean and still raw but has a natural athleticism that could bode well for his future.

Gabe Kalscheur – DeLaSalle in Minneapolis has produced some very talented basketball prospects the last several years and the trend continues with Kalscheur, who is a rising prospect in the 2018 class. The 6-4 guard is a true scorer with a quick release and accurate touch from the outside and the ability to get to the basket.

The others:

Jordan McCabe – The 5-11, four-star point guard from Wisconsin might be undersized but McCabe certainly has flash from three-point range and has drawn interest of some sort from more than 15 schools, including Iowa State, Michigan State, UCLA and Wisconsin.

Moses Brown -- Another four-star recruit, the 6-10 Brown has the size Minnesota needs and already looks comfortable around the basket. With a nice touch at the hoop and a bent for physical play, the Brooklyn star should blossom into a very strong recruit.

Nine names to follow as Gophers 2017 basketball recruiting picks up

Summer evaluation periods began this month and thus college hoops recruiting is in full force, with the Gophers coaching staff – just like staffs at every other school -- scrambling to secure commitments, fill holes and come out with a stronger looking future.

The Gophers will have just two scholarships available to give recruits for the 2017-18 class (Graduate Akeem Springs’ eligibility will expire and former walk-on Darin Haugh’s one-year scholarship will expire). As usual, Minnesota has cast a wide net in order to find its ideal candidates, but the Gophers are beginning to hone in as the school year gets nearer.

A couple of clear trends stand out:

Minnesota and Minnesota East – Just like the last class, the Gophers are high on the bevy of talented locals with three of their top targets all in-state recruits. Otherwise? Minnesota, thanks to the networking of assistant Kimani Young, is trolling the Northeast, hitting New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts hard.

Point guards/ versatile forwards – In 2017-18, starting point guard Nate Mason will be a senior. Even if freshman Amir Coffey has taken the reins by then, the Gophers will want someone developing in the shadows to back up Coffey and possibly be the floor general in the not-too-distant future. Another position the Gophers are hitting hard with this class is the versatile forward type, looking for players that can defend, stretch to play several positions and score inside and out. With those two focuses taking shape, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Minnesota end up with one of each once the signing period rolls around this fall.

Here’s a look at the Gophers’ main targets this summer:

TOP TIER:

The locals:

McKinley Wright – The 6-foot tough driving guard from Champlin Park has visited Minnesota campus unofficially and the intrigue and excitement appears to go both ways. Other offers include Iowa State, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas State, Xavier and Texas Tech.

Theo John – At 6-9 with a soft touch inside and out, Champlin Park’s John is the remaining prize of the class, ranked 129th by Rivals and 80th by Scout. John has offers from the likes of Michigan State, Maryland and Florida, among many others, but the Gophers have been on him hard from the start.

Jericho Sims – I think the Gophers want to see Sims, an athletic, 6-8 big man from Minneapolis, develop a bit more, but they’ve seen enough to be very high on him nonetheless. Expect his recruit to either ramp up or wither this summer.

The others:

Isaiah Washington --The 6-1 Bronx point guard took an official visit to Minnesota last month and the Gophers are certainly a player as his offers pile up. Washington’s strengths are in getting to the basket and reading the floor.

Wabissa Bede -- The 5-11 Massachusetts point guard can create shots for others and himself, and has develops a consistent jumper. The undersized guard has the tools but would need to put on some serious pounds to compete in the Big Ten. Bede has several offers, but the Gophers are his only power-conference suitor.

Jamir Harris --The Gophers keyed into the 6-2 shooting guard from New Jersey last fall; now others are starting to notice the rising target and his bigtime shooting potential.

SECOND TIER:

Terrance Lewis --The Milwaukee 6-6 forward can drive and play inside. Other offers include Iowa State, Marquette and Wisconsin.

Hasahn French -- Size and physicality are the major draws with French, a 6-7, 230-pound big man who can bang around in the paint with the best of them. The Massachusetts forward grew early, but continues to evolve.

Keith Williams -- The 6-3 guard from Brooklyn might be one of the more underrated upper-tier recruits in his class, but the Gophers – along with Bowling Green, Dayton, Rutgers and Seton Hall – see potential in his craftiness and toughness at the basket.

OFF THE TABLE:

The Gophers have either cooled down on or missed out on the following players…

Goanar Mar

Sidney Wilson

Deng Gak

Najja Hunter

Abu Kigab

Darius Perry

Mario Haskett (committed to Harvard)

Brad Davidson (committed to Wisconsin)

Nate Reuvers (committed to Wisconsin)