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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Alex Illikainen could be primed for another big recruitment leap

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: May 7, 2014 - 11:54 AM

In case you missed it, my story from yesterday's paper on Minnesota's schedule for next season and the balance Richard Pitino hopes to find.

If history is any influence, it could be a big summer for Alex Illikainen.

The power forward, who is ranked 84th nationally in the 2015 class, according to rivals.com, already has a notable list of interested programs knocking on his door. But tucked up in Grand Rapids, Illikainen probably loses some of the accidental exposure recruits closer to the metro benefit from when schools come to watch other athletes and become intrigued in other players along the way.

This AAU season, then, could act as a final coming out party for Illikainen, who will be competing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball circuit (EYBL) -- with Howard Pulley -- for the first time. The summer before a recruit's senior season often proves to be a critical one. The 6-9 Minnesotan certainly has plenty of attention already. But the next few months could bring a second wind.

"It seems to happen, so hopefully it does," Illikainen said. "But I'm definitely comfortable with where I'm at. If no one else jumps in, I can definitely make a decision and be happy with it."

Currently, schools that have offered include Minnesota, California, Creighton, Indiana, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oregon and Providence -- which is the most recent program to dangle a scholarship -- among others. The forward hasn't set up any visits just yet (he's only officially visited Cal so far). 

Illikainen said he talks to the Minnesota staff on a daily basis, sometimes about the team, sometimes about the program's wishlist when it comes to facilities, sometimes about how he could fit into the current system -- a stretch-four, Joey King- like role -- sometimes just "as friends, everyday conversations."

Minnesota, of course, has the advantage of proximity. Illikainen has been paying attention to the program he grew up watching.

"He had a great year, finishing off strong," Illikainen said of Pitino. "He's doing great things. I love the way he plays and just the relationships between me and him and [assistant] coach [Ben] Johnson are great."

One of the aspects of his game he's focusing on this summer is ball handling, Illikainen said. The EYBL, with its talented cache of players, should help that, along with providing that extra boost in his recruitment.

"It's a huge change," Illikainen said of the EYBL circuit. "I love it though. I love the challenge. The guys that are good here, when you go there, it's even better. It's just teaching me what I can do, what I can't do."

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Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay 2 Top 3rd Inning
Baltimore 2
Atlanta 1 Bottom 5th Inning
NY Mets 0
Cleveland 1 Top 1st Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Minnesota 1 Top 1st Inning
Kansas City 0
Texas 0 Top 1st Inning
Houston 0
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 21 3rd Qtr 4:53
Jacksonville 7
Detroit 10 2nd Qtr 5:55
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 0 2nd Qtr 1:23
Cincinnati 7
Kansas City 0 2nd Qtr 5:21
Green Bay 17
NY Jets 0 2nd Qtr 3:03
Philadelphia 7
St. Louis 10 2nd Qtr 5:23
Miami 0
Carolina 3 1st Qtr 1:28
Pittsburgh 0
New England 0 2nd Qtr 14:56
NY Giants 0
Washington 3 2nd Qtr
Tampa Bay 0
Baltimore 0 1st Qtr 15:00
New Orleans 0
Chicago 3 1st Qtr 11:19
Cleveland 0
Denver 0 1st Qtr 13:21
Dallas 0
Minnesota 0 1st Qtr 10:56
Tennessee 0
San Francisco 0 1st Qtr 13:38
Houston 0
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 31 3rd Qtr 14:45
(9) So Carolina 14
Wake Forest 7 2nd Qtr 5:00
ULM 0
Boise State 0 1st Qtr 9:47
(18) Ole Miss 0
Tulane 0 1st Qtr 12:08
Tulsa 0
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 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
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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
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(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
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(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
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Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
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Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
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Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
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Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
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Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
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

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