Before Martice Mitchell leads one of the top high school teams in the state of Illinois his senior season, he wanted to pick a college basketball program best suited to utilize his versatility at 6 feet 10.

The four-star Chicago Heights Bloom High forward announced his decision Monday to be the first commitment in the Gophers’ 2020 recruiting class.

Mitchell, ranked as high as No. 125 in the country and the No. 3 senior in Illinois by, picked Minnesota over Rutgers. Gophers coach Richard Pitino has now landed a four-star recruit in six straight recruiting classes.

“I think they’re getting a hidden gem,” said Aubrey DeNard, Mitchell’s mentor, trainer and AAU coach. “He’s a late bloomer, as far as how good he’s going to be. He’s going to be one of the best guys in the country by the end of this year. He’s very versatile. He can shoot the three, put it on the floor and post up.”

The Gophers were the only Big Ten program without a 2020 commitment before Mitchell’s announcement Monday.

Two weeks ago, Mitchell’s official trip to the U gave him a chance to hear how Pitino and his staff would give him an opportunity to stretch the floor and use the perimeter skills he has at his size.

“They haven’t had anybody like him,” DeNard said. “I think that’s one of the main reasons he picked them. [Gophers assistant] Rob Jeter is incredible. He really intrigued us and Martice on the visit. He really vibes well with him, and he really likes Pitino. I think he’s a great coach and knows what he’s talking about. He has a lot to offer and can really help Martice become that player he wants to become.”

Mitchell said he expects that.

“They can help me get to the next level that I’m trying to get to,” Mitchell said Monday night. “I chose them because I feel like it’s a good fit. I really get along with the players and I like the coaches.”

Despite being listed as a center, Mitchell showed off his outside shooting skills during the summer AAU circuit playing for Young & Reckless/Kevon Looney Elite. He went from a non-ranked player last year to attracting Power Five offers from Rutgers, Minnesota, Xavier, Maryland, Oregon, Iowa and Mississippi.

As a junior, Mitchell led Bloom to 26 wins and within one win of the program’s first Illinois state tournament berth since 2012. His high school team should be one of the top five teams in the state this season.

Pitino has two scholarships remaining for 2020 with hopes of soon adding four-star Brewster Academy guard Jamal Mashburn Jr., who narrowed down his list to Cal and Minnesota. The son of the former Kentucky and NBA standout made an official visit to the Gophers over the weekend.

The Gophers announced in a Twitter video that senior walk-on guard Brady Rudrud will receive a scholarship for the 2019-20 season. Rudrud played at Eden Prairie.


The top priority locally for Pitino is five-star Prior Lake forward Dawson Garcia, who made his official visit on the same weekend that Mitchell did in September.