DeLaSalle senior Jarvis Johnson, the state’s most highly touted 2014 basketball prospect and the Gophers’ top recruiting target, is expected to commit Friday to the University of Minnesota.
In front of friends, family and classmates at the DeLaSalle gymnasium after school on Friday, the 6-1 point guard is expected to fill out coach Richard Pitino’s impressive 2015 class, sources told the Star Tribune this week.
An announcement is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., and startribune.com plans to livestream the event.
Johnson is Pitino’s first recruit directly out of a Minnesota high school.
The Brooklyn Park native took an official visit to the university last weekend — his only official visit. He dined with players and coaches, but the highlight for Johnson might have been attending the Minnesota-Middle Tennessee State football game.
“As soon as I walked out of the tunnel, they just started chanting my name,” he said earlier this week. “It was cool to see, though. I really enjoyed that part a lot. It was kind of a surprise moment, but it kind of just made me laugh a little bit.”
Minnesota — unable to snag any of last year’s in-state “Big Three” of Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones (Duke), former Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn (UNLV) and DeLa Salle forward Reid Travis (Stanford) — beat out several Big Ten schools to get Johnson, who had offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Maryland and Penn State.
Johnson was ranked a three-star player and within the national top 90 for his class by Rivals.com earlier this summer, but he fell out of the top 150 after the AAU season.
Still, Johnson adds a splashy top to a guard-heavy recruiting class that was already ranked 21st nationally by Rivals before the commitments of Johnson and 6-10 Florida center Jonathan Nwankwo, who joined his future teammate on campus last weekend. The pair joins guards Kevin Dorsey (85th nationally) and Dupree McBrayer (134th).
Johnson is a natural scorer whose athleticism allows him to drive and finish at the basket. He is praised for his court vision and ability to find teammates in transition.
While visiting the Minnesota campus, he was able to view upgrades to the Bierman Field Athletic Building, which Pitino has converted into a makeshift practice facility since his arrival at Minnesota.
“I really liked it,” Johnson said. “Knowing that they work fast. From the time I was in there for the team camp, there has been a lot of progress that has been made there. I like what they’re trying to do with the building.”
Johnson had scheduled four other official visits, which he will no longer take: to Wisconsin next weekend and to Wichita State, UNLV and Baylor next month.
The four players in the 2015-16 class so far make up the highest-ranked recruiting class at Minnesota in at least 13 years — as far back as Rivals tracks. The Gophers’ 2008 class ranked 23rd nationally and their 2009 class was 24th. Current rankings could change as other programs add players.
The Gophers are still recruiting Minnesotan Alex Illikainen — a 6-9 forward from Grand Rapids currently playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire — but do not have any scholarships available as the current roster stands.
This Gophers class will be the result of Pitino’s first full recruiting season. The coach, who was hired in April 2013, reeled in four players in his first two months. And the new Gophers staff was in Minnesota only seven months before the first signing period for 2014-15 recruits.