German prospect Isaiah Ihnen became the third member of the Gophers' 2019 recruiting class after finishing his official visit Tuesday, he confirmed to the Star Tribune.
The 6-foot-9 Ihnen is now Richard Pitino's highest rated recruit in the U's incoming freshman class.
Ihnen, who visited Texas Christian over the weekend, said that Pitino and Minnesota's coaching staff was able to keep him from signing with TCU with a great sales pitch on his potential position with the Gophers.
"I'll have the opportunity to start," Ihnen said. "They would use me as a wing, but as my skills evolve maybe even as a guard, similar to (Amir) Coffey. (Pitino’s) not afraid to play me at PG. He already did it with Coffey.”
The Gophers could use Ihnen next season as a forward, but down the line they hope he could become more like a taller and longer version of Coffey, a 6-8 junior floor leader who led the Gophers in scoring and assists this year.
“I could have a big opportunity to have the ball in my hands,” Ihnen said the Gophers told him. “I’ll be used on the perimeter and occasionally in the post to make use of mismatches.”
Ihnen, who first told 247Sports.com's Evan Daniels about his commitment late Tuesday afternoon, is an up-and-coming 18-year-old prospect at Germany’s International Basketball Academy of Munich (IBAM). He had early scholarship offers from Tennessee and Stanford, but Ihnen narrowed his decision to the Horned Frogs and Gophers after they made him a priority this spring.
Daniels tweeted Tuesday that Ihnen has moved up to four-star status and No. 89 in 247Sports.com's 2019 rankings, which makes him the top recruit in Pitino's incoming class. The class also includes four-star Wasatch Academy (Utah) guard Tre' Williams and three-star 6-10 Northwest (Texas) center Sam Freeman.
“Isaiah has good size, length and athleticism for a versatile forward,” Daniels told the Star Tribune. “I think he’s a multi-positional defender who plays hard. He’s a good athlete. He’s able to stretch the floor a little – and there’s a lot of upside here. I think he can be a mismatch problem. With his physical tools, he’s a really good prospect.”
At IBAM practice in Munich watching 6-6 guard Josh Obiesie and 6-9 forward Isaiah Ihnen. The 18-year-old Ihnen has a great physical profile with long arms, wide shoulders and impressive fluidity. pic.twitter.com/1KSHen2X6d— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 24, 2019
Ihnen gained exposure to college coaches recruiting internationally, including Gophers assistant Kyle Lindsted. IBAM produced Stanford big man Oscar Da Silva and most recently 2019 NBA Draft prospect Joshua Obiesie. Ihnen played this season with Obiesie, who was on the World team in the Nike Hoop Summit recently.
Weighing 210 pounds, Ihnen’s potential is intriguing with his athletic ability, length (7-4 wingspan) and perimeter skills for his size. He averaged 12.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 35 percent from three-point range this season in Germany’s top basketball league for U19 players.
Ihnen was born and raised in Germany, but he’s of African descent from his mother’s (Eritrean) and father’s (Senegalese) side. He didn’t start playing basketball until age 14.
The Gophers might not be done adding international flavor to the roster next season.
Drexel junior forward Alihan Demir also made his official visit before Ihnen from last Friday through Sunday. A decision could come soon from the 6-9, 230-pound Demir graduate