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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Q&A with new Gophers commit Daquein McNeil

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: May 7, 2013 - 3:17 PM


Photo credit: Rivals

Photo credit: Rivals


New Gophers coach Richard Pitino officially received a committment from his first recruit for the 2013-14 season last week in Daquein McNeil. The Vermont Academy senior point guard had offers from Louisville, VCU, Oklahoma and Richmond among others, but had committed to Florida International before Pitino took his current job at Minnesota. The 6-3, 175-pound McNeil, who is from Baltimore but started going to Vermont Academy as a sophomore, has a reputation for seeing the court well and being able to create off the dribble.

Questions in bold below with McNeil's answers in regular type.

Tell me about what attracted you to coach Pitino in the first place. Why did you want to play for him?

It all started when I went to my visit at FIU. He knows my coach here at Vermont Academy pretty well, so they already had a good bond. And my coach here at Vermont Academy always told me, as I was choosing my school, that it was always about the coach or the assistant coach who recruited you the hardest. Because that means they really want you to be there.

I would always see coach Pitino during the summer (around the AAU circuits). This is when he was still at Louisville, and Louisville had offered me. … I would just say that he is a very consistent guy, and he really liked me.

You said that you hadn’t talked when him specifically, yet. Do you remember the first time he reached out to you?

Yes … August 28 (2012).

Wow, you rememember the exact date.

Yes, because coach Kimani called me first and I was shocked and then he got coach Pitino to call.

Did you say you were shocked?

Yes, because coach Kimani, he was a coach on the circuit that I played for and I would have never thought he’d be coaching in college.

Ah, OK. So did you keep in constant contact with those guys from there?

Yeah. He [Pitino] would just text me and tell me good luck in games. He would ask me how my season was going, things like that.

When did you hear that he might be going to Minnesota?

Me and my friends were watching ESPN one day and I heard it. It was kind of a rumor at first.

What was your thought at that moment?

I was kind of shocked but I kind of kept it to myself. I was kind of shocked, but knowing him and knowing the guy that he was, I knew he would call.

And when did he call?

It was the day after he came to Minnesota and he did the big conference in the gym.

So was that a big thing for you -- that he obviously reached out to you so quickly, that he showed that even though he moved schools, he was still very interested in you?

I was just grateful. Because I know when things like that happen with coaches and they get new jobs and they leave their old school. They really don’t take players. So I was just grateful. I couldn’t complain about it.

You mentioned again that you were offered by Louisville. I know you were also offered by Rutgers, VCU and Oklahoma. Any others?

[University of Alabama- Birmingham] and Richmond.

So some pretty big schools in there. Especially when you look at Louisiville, Oklahoma, VCU being a very exciting program. Coach Pitino must have made a pretty big impression on you for you to say, ‘No, I’m going to go play for Florida International’).

Yeah (laughs).

Was it a hard decision?

Actually, no. After coming from the visit at FIU – I pretty much want to work hard and that’s it. And when I went to visit at FIU, for them to be a new program and seven or eight players being new, they were working so hard together --and it was for him. So that’s what really got me.

Did your friends tell you that you were crazy for choosing FIU over Louisville?

No, I mean, most of my relatives were [saying that] – but for the main part, my friends, they were just excited. They were like, it’s a good choice. They know he’s a young coach and everything, he’s not new to the game, but he’s a young coach and they were saying ‘That’s going to make it fun for you.’

Would you say it was mostly his personality then, and the things you saw there that attract you to him?

Yeah, definitely.

How much of a factor was his playing style? It seems like the style he brings, every recruit in America wants to play that way.

Yes, we also play kind of the same way at my high school. So I there were a lot of things, but when you look at that it’s like I’ve been going to my high school for three years (McNeil spent his freshman year at Carver Vo-tech in Baltimore) and I’ve been playing OK. So it’s pretty fast and no one wants to play the slow, half-court game, so I guess that was also a big part.

Has Pitino talked to you any about where you will fit in immediately with this current roster?

No, he hasn’t.

Have you played at point for most of your high school career?

Yes. I’ve played a lot of different guard positions, but at my high school, I’ve mostly played point.

And do you feel like that’s kind of where you belong, at point? Or do you feel comfortable in a lot of positions?

I kind of feel like I belong there with how my attack can create shots for others.

Have you talked with Pitino about whether he wants to keep you at point or play you in another guard position?

No, we haven’t even talked about positions at all, we’ve just talked about how – we all know the Big Ten is a big step up and we’ve talked about how I need to come in ready to work and be prepared.

What do you think is the biggest strength that you bring to the table?

I’m a pretty good slasher, I would say, going to the rim.

You haven’t had a chance to visit Minnesota yet, have you?

No, I will soon – in May.

Do you know when yet? No, maam.

It’s going to be for a weekend though?


Any idea about your major yet?

At FIU, I was going to major in public health and social work, but I’m not sure right now.


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
UCF 6:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




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