Thirteen months ago, roommates Eric Curry and Amir Coffey sat on their bunks during the Nike Elite 100 camp in St. Louis while talking, lightly, about their futures.
Coffey, by that point, was garnering national recruiting interest. Curry, a late-bloomer, was only starting to get noticed.
“Maybe I’ll go to Minnesota with you,” Curry’s mom, Audrea Phipps, remembers him later telling her he joked to Coffey. “Hey man, let’s both go to Minnesota.”
But roughly a year later, the spontaneous proposal is no longer a joke. Wednesday, Curry — now a top-150 prospect in the 2016 class — committed to Minnesota, capping a momentous week for the Gophers and coach Richard Pitino.
“It’s so funny that it ended up happening,” Phipps said. “It’s been amazing.”
Curry’s commitment came two days after Coffey, a Hopkins guard, gave Pitino the nod, then encouraged his pal to join him. The two became fast friends after meeting in St. Louis and officially visited Minnesota together this month. The back-to-back commitments completed the 2016 class after joining three-star Rochester wing Michael Hurt, who committed to Pitino in January.
With four-star Coffey as the headliner, this group marks Pitino’s most notable class since taking the job in 2013.
Curry, a 6-7 stretch-power forward, chose Minnesota over Iowa State and Arkansas. He also had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma State, SMU and VCU — among others. High school coach Charles Baker said he watched a skinny, somewhat unsure 15-year-old blossom into a skilled player who packed on about 25 pounds of bulk last year. Curry only began playing the game in sixth grade, Phipps said, and Baker believes he’s now seizing his potential.
Playing a tougher traveling high school schedule after moving from Memphis to Arkansas, where he plays at Southwest Christian Academy, Curry began to understand his own talent, Baker said.
“He started playing against these kids that were ranked on websites, and he came out of the game scratching his head saying ‘Whoa, I’m as good as that dude,’ ” Baker said.
But don’t expect the realization to change much.
“He’s extremely humble,” Baker said. “He talks to his friends but for the most part, he’s quiet. … His whole life right now is basketball and school and family. He couldn’t tell you where the next party is because he doesn’t know.”