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Cristo Rey basketball star Sims picks Texas over Gophers, others

Jericho Sims didn't schedule any recruiting trips after his official visit to Texas -- and now we know why.

The Cristo Rey Jesuit senior forward gave an oral commitment to the Longhorns on Monday night. He was also strongly considering Minnesota. And Sims recently received a scholarship offer from Kansas.

A 6-foot-9, 220-pound four-star prospect, Sims visited Austin, Texas over the weekend and apparently was blown away by coach Shaka Smart's staff and players.

"I just feel like I fit in the most there and not just with the players, but the coaches and the assistant coaches," Sims told Scout.com's Evan Daniels.

Sims' father, Charles, played for the Gophers in the 1970s with Flip Saunders and Mychal Thompson. He also had a brother, Dominique, who played football at the U. But the family connection to the Gophers wasn't enough to keep him home.

"He had a great relationship with Shaka Smart," Cristo Rey coach Stan Clay said. "When I talked with him, I talked about the importance of a coach, not just on the court but off the court. He felt like even if he didn't play basketball that Shaka Smart would care about him."

The Gophers went 8-23 last season and had off-court issues, but Clay said that didn't factor in the decision. Sims really did think about playing for the Gophers.

"It's not because of them struggling," Clay said. "It's not that the U did something wrong. I give (assistant) Ben Johnson credit. He was great to our program and great to Jericho. He did a fabulous job recruiting and covered a lot of ground. But in the end, Jericho just felt like he had a better relationship with Shaka. I know there will be some upset people because he didn't pick the U, but it was the best decision for him."

Gophers coach Richard Pitino and his staff need to turn their full attention toward landing Champlin Park teammates McKinley Wright and Theo John. Wright, a 6-foot point guard, is scheduled to visit Minnesota this weekend. John, a 6-9 forward/center, will visit Marquette this weekend and Minnesota the following week.

John recently enjoyed his trip to Cal last weekend, but he's still expected to make his decision after the last two official visits. Wright has trips scheduled for Dayton (Sept. 9 weekend), Memphis (Sept. 16 weekend) and Xavier (Sept. 23 weekend). But Dayton and Minnesota appear to be the leaders.

U women's basketball opens Big Ten schedule with top title contenders

Ohio State and Maryland are arguably the top two women's basketball teams in the Big Ten this season. And they both play the Gophers to start conference play.

Minnesota opens Dec. 28 at Ohio State, followed by its Big Ten home opener Jan. 1 against Maryland at Williams Arena.  

There's a bit of a break for the Gophers playing three of their first five Big Ten games at home, including Jan. 7 against Wisconsin and Jan. 11 against Northwestern.  

Coach Marlene Stollings' team finished 8-1 in the conference at the Barn last season (only loss was to Michigan), highlighted by an upset over the Buckeyes. The rematch with Ohio State at home is Jan. 26.

The Gophers play six Big Ten home games in January. They host Michigan State on Jan. 30 at the Barn for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Other home games include Illinois (Jan. 18), Rutgers (Feb. 11) and Purdue (Feb. 23).

One thing that should help Stollings compete with the conference's top teams to start will be the debut of 6-foot-5 Iowa State transfer Bryanna Fernstrom. The Center City, Minn. native is eligible in late December after sitting out the end of last season.

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