'Big Three' prep basketball standouts dazzle recruiters

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 6, 2013 - 12:08 PM
hide

Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones, left, and DeLaSalle forward Reid Travis played together on the Howard Pulley AAU team. They and former Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn are ranked in the top 25 nationally.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • kyndell.harkness@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

In the 2009-10 season, one special point guard in Apple Valley burst onto the Minnesota high school basketball scene. A year later, a phenomenal shooting guard showed up in New Hope and a season after that, a third player began to dominate in Minneapolis at power forward.

Now the state will watch as Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis — the “Big Three” headlining the most highly recruited and nationally recognized class ever to come out of Minnesota — make decisions about where they’ll take their next steps. College basketball’s early signing period starts Nov. 13, and Travis is expected to announce his choice Friday.

Minnesota has been the breeding spot for some elite basketball players in the past, including Khalid El-Amin, Rick Rickert, Kris Humphries and Royce White. But never have there been three five-star recruits (as ESPN ranks Travis, Vaughn and Jones) in a single year.

The last group that came close to Minnesota’s Class of 2014, in terms of consolidated talent, was in 2009 when the state produced three four-star recruits (according to Scout.com) in White (Gophers/Iowa State), Rodney Williams (Gophers) and Trent Lockett (Arizona State/Marquette). In 2008, Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren graduated and both went on to excel at Wisconsin.

And there were several other star-studded recruiting classes. Four stars Cole Aldrich (Kansas), Jon Leuer (Wisconsin) and Trevor Mbakwe (Marquette/Gophers) joined three-star Blake Hoffarber (Gophers) in 2007. Humphries (Gophers) came out of the 2003 class; fellow NBA player Alan Anderson (Michigan State) and Rick Rickert (Gophers) graduated two years earlier. The class of 1999 produced Troy Bell (Boston College) as well as Nick Jacobson (Utah), Michael Bauer and Shane Schilling (both Gophers).

Rene Pulley, director of the High Performance Academy basketball facility in Eagan, cites that class in demonstrating that talent has come from Minnesota in the past.

“We’ve had great players here before, we just didn’t get the recognition,” Pulley said. “Minnesota was not on the map. This is the first time we’ve had three players that finally got their just due across the country.”

This group, however, is different. Jones, Vaughn and Travis are not simply good; they are elite. All three are rated in the top 25 of the Class of 2014, according to ESPN, which ranks Jones at No. 4, Vaughn at No. 17 and Travis at No. 23. The trio has been soaking up the national limelight for years, being wooed by some of the country’s best programs in Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, to name a few.

“To have three top-50 kids, including arguably the best point guard in the country, maybe the best shooting guard in the country and then another guy who has become a top-40 kid — I just think it’s tremendous for a state not known for producing stud basketball players to have three in one class,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello said.

Together, the diverse trio would make for the most dynamic recruited class in University of Minnesota history, but all three showing up on new Gophers coach Richard Pitino’s doorstep is highly unlikely. Pitino has heavily recruited the trio since taking the job in April, but securing a commitment in six months when other top programs have had years of contact is a tough assignment.

Duke and Kansas seem to have captured Jones’ interest long ago. Travis, a top student as well, has been intrigued by Stanford and by the more recent interest of Duke, who seem to have plenty of space for the forward after recruit Kevon Looney, an expected Blue Devils grab, surprised many by committing to UCLA. Vaughn is more of a wild card, but he left Minnesota for Findlay Prep in Nevada before this season, putting him in the back yard of suitor UNLV.

Travis is probably the Gophers’ best hope of any of the three. The forward took an official visit to Minnesota in October, the only one of the three to do so at their home state school, and he seems to respect the new Gophers staff and like Pitino’s system, even showing up at the team’s exhibition game at Williams Arena on Monday, only days before announcing his college decision.

But even if Minnesota isn’t able to nab any of the three, the state might still benefit. With premier coaches traversing through the Land of 10,000 Lakes to watch the Big Three, underclassmen such as DeLaSalle guard Jarvis Johnson, Grand Rapids forward Alex Illikainen and Hopkins wing Amir Coffey have become national targets as well.

“Those are guys that would have been found sometime, but the more big-name coaches that are coming through Minnesota to recruit, they’re bound to find talent earlier than maybe they would have,” Borzello said.

 

Amelia Rayno amelia.rayno@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota - T. May 6:05 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
NY Yankees - C. Capuano 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. deGrom
Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close