Big recruiting class addresses Gophers' basketball needs

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 1, 2014 - 1:51 PM

With six available scholarships, Richard Pitino lured athletic players who fit his mold.

hide

Richard Pitino had many holes to fill with his second recruiting class.

Photo: TONY DING • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Toward the end of the past season, available seats on the Gophers men’s basketball team’s bench were adding up.

Wally Ellenson decided to leave the team and eventually transfer, and later on the Gophers announced that Oto Osenieks’ knee injury would force him to end his playing career. Add on the one scholarship offer the Gophers chose not to use in the fall recruiting period, and the door had quickly opened this spring for three more fresh faces to join the three fall-period recruits.

Coach Richard Pitino didn’t hold back on his bevy of openings last month, ultimately signing three more recruits to fill all six 2014-15 scholarship slots and top off his second Gophers class.

This recruiting process was somewhat unorthodox because of the timing of Pitino’s hiring last year — it came about eight months before the fall signing deadline, when the majority of Division I recruits pen their letters of intent. But while the incoming bunch, at least initially, isn’t likely to knock the socks off anyone within the context of the talented Big Ten, it certainly addressed some major deficits. All but Illinois State transfer Zach Lofton, who must sit out next season per NCAA rules, could contribute immediately.

The Gophers propped up their frontcourt with a pair of power forwards and a center, who will need to be game-ready come 2015, after Elliott Eliason and Mo Walker have exhausted their eligibility. At the same time, the Gophers infused depth into a thinning backcourt that loses Austin Hollins, Maverick Ahanmisi and Malik Smith from this past season.

The Gophers’ biggest class since 2010 should increase competition for major rotation spots and reiterates Pitino’s tailored approach to recruiting that he first demonstrated a year ago. Some of the newbies will have to overachieve for this to be considered a truly successful class, but the identity Pitino is seeking is imminently clear in each of the six: versatile, athletic scorers who can run and shoot.

In a few months, we should find out how successful that recipe is in Pitino’s second season.

Here’s a look at the six newest Gophers:

Nate Mason

The nitty gritty: 5-11,160-pound guard

Rivals ranking: ⋆⋆⋆

Hometown: Decatur, Ga.

His game: The Gophers envision Mason as a combo guard — albeit an undersized one — because his scoring ability might actually trump his distribution skills. He is the type of speedy shooter who would fit perfectly into Pitino’s system.

Carlos Morris

The nitty gritty: 6-5, 175-pound guard

Rivals ranking: ⋆⋆⋆; JUCO transfer; averaged 13.3 points per game — making 35.6 percent of his three-pointers — and four rebounds at Chipola Community College in Florida.

Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.

His game: Pitino has called the addition of “Squirrel” critical after the loss of Austin Hollins. Morris’ maturity, flexibility and defensive skills should help fill that gap.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 5:30 PM
Seattle
Miami 17 1st Qtr 2:58
Boston 10
LA Lakers 1:00 PM
New York
Arizona 0 1st Prd 11:44
Montreal 2
St. Louis 1 1st Prd 9:47
Washington 1
Nashville 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Vancouver
Miami-Florida 36 2nd Half
Florida State 25
Oakland 49 2nd Half
Youngstown St 42
Cincinnati 15 1st Half 7:24
East Carolina 11
Michigan 17 1st Half 7:20
Michigan State 11
Marist 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fordham 1:00 PM
Dayton
Manhattan 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Niagara
Utah 1:30 PM
USC
Connecticut 2:00 PM
Houston
California 2:00 PM
Washington
North Dakota St 2:00 PM
Western Ill
Penn State 41 2nd Half 12:52
(22) Rutgers 42
(14) Texas 15 1st Half 8:43
TCU 17
Coll of Charleston 12 1st Half 7:55
Towson 22
Cornell 14 1st Half 11:11
Yale 13
Xavier 13 1st Half 11:32
Providence 10
Drexel 18 1st Half 7:07
UNC-Wilmington 15
Stony Brook 11 1st Half 7:53
New Hampshire 9
Maine 16 1st Half 5:44
Albany 10
Miami-Florida 19 1st Half 7:59
Pittsburgh 19
(21) Georgia 13 1st Half 9:34
(10) Kentucky 19
Arizona 19 1st Half 6:23
Colorado 22
Wake Forest 22 1st Half 8:02
(4) Notre Dame 23
Loyola-Chicago 13 1st Half 11:50
Illinois State 13
(24) Oklahoma 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Butler 1:00 PM
Creighton
St Johns 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Delaware 1:00 PM
Hofstra
Binghamton 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Vermont 1:00 PM
Hartford
William & Mary 1:00 PM
Northeastern
Boston College 1:00 PM
(16) North Carolina
Virginia 1:00 PM
Clemson
(2) Connecticut 1:00 PM
Temple
Arkansas 1:00 PM
Alabama
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Kansas 1:00 PM
(3) Baylor
Canisius 1:00 PM
Rider
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Fairfield
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Wichita State 1:05 PM
Drake
Evansville 1:05 PM
Indiana State
(18) Miss State 2:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
Villanova 2:00 PM
DePaul
Georgetown 2:00 PM
Marquette
North Texas 2:00 PM
Rice
Auburn 2:00 PM
(12) Texas A&M
(11) Arizona State 2:00 PM
Utah
Missouri State 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Michigan 2:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Wisconsin 2:00 PM
Illinois
Bradley 2:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close