Less than half an hour after local 2016 recruit Amir Coffey had made public his decision to play at the University of Minnesota when he completes his senior year of high school, the skilled guard was already casting the attention elsewhere.
Looking straight into the mass of media that swarmed around him at Hopkins High School, Coffey grinned.
“I’m hoping Eric Curry joins the Gopher family,” he said.
Coffey, and the rest of the intrigued basketball community, won’t have to wait long to find out.
Curry, a three-star 6-7 forward from Arkansas, who just happens to be a good friend of Coffey’s, is planning to announce his college decision on Wednesday. He’ll be choosing from Minnesota, Iowa State and Arkansas (Curry also has offers from Alabama, Oklahoma State, SMU and VCU), but Coffey is more than a little biased.
The two Midwestern prospects met a little over a year ago, when they roomed one door down from each other at the Nike Elite 100 camp in St. Louis. They hit it off almost immediately and a new friendship was born.
“We just always saw each other that whole week and just became good friends,” Coffey said. “Since then, we’ve been texting every week.”
Turned out, the interest expanded beyond just the two of them. The Gophers – long pursuing Coffey -- began also recruiting Curry with a force early this summer.
Curry, the kind of athletic stretch-power forward that Pitino is drawn to for his system, has a long wing span, a versatile scoring attack and a knack for rebounding – a major need for the Gophers right now. And his skillset happens to mesh pretty well with that of new commit Coffey’s as well.
“Amir was always interested in finding a big guy that was pretty decent to kind of team up with,” Coffey’s father, former Gopher Richard Coffey said. “He and I have talked about that off and on.”
Curry could be that guy. Richard said Curry has a similar temperament to Amir – somewhat quiet and reserved, avoiding attention and flashiness. But when the pair gets together, they become chatter boxes and jokesters.
After texting back and forth all summer, Curry and Coffey set up their official visit at Minnesota together, and were two peas in a pod at every meal and on the football field before the Gophers’ season opener vs. TCU on Sept. 3.
“When they saw each other, they were thrilled,” Richard said. “It was never a forced conversation between them, they just got together and they laughed and it was almost like they were old buddies – laughing and joking the entire time.”
Since then, they’ve talked almost daily, Richard said. And the wheels have been turning, at least in Amir’s head to keep the friendship going – as teammates.
Curry also took official visits to Arkansas and SMU this month, so his decision has a bit more suspense to it than that of Coffey, who went only to Minnesota, but the Gophers – newest recruit included – are making a strong final push.
On Monday, Coffey said he wasn’t holding back. “I’m calling him right after this,” he said.