Gophers coach Richard Pitino nabbed his second guard on the transfer market this spring with Pittsburgh’s Marcus Carr announcing his commitment Monday evening.
Carr, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound Toronto native, was sold on the program after taking his official visit this weekend. He averaged 10 points and four assists per game for the Panthers as a freshman this season.
“It was the right fit,” Carr told 247Sports.com’s Evan Daniels on Monday. “The Big Ten is a great conference. Talking with (Pitino) and him telling me his plan for me and his team and how I can come in and impact the team (convinced him).”
Pitino has now used two of his three open scholarships for next season after also signing former Vanderbilt guard Payton Willis, who will have two seasons to play in 2019-20 after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules. Carr, who has three years of eligibility left, is hoping to be allowed to play next season at Minnesota since Pitt coach Kevin Stallings was fired in April, according to his mentor and Northern Kings AAU coach Vidal Massiah.
"Given the current state of college basketball, I know they're looking at that rule where if your coach is fired you would be eligible to transfer and play immediately," Massiah said. "I think either way, it's a case worth fighting for. Here's a coach who had been recruiting him for years and the coach gets fired. Then you tell a kid he can't make a lateral move and secure his future? That's kind of the elephant in the room right now."
It's unclear whether Carr will get his waiver granted by the NCAA before next season, but the Gophers have a spot for him either way. That was a major factor in the recruiting process, which early on included schools such as Villanova, Ohio State and Michigan.
"The coaches really believe in him," Massiah said about the Gophers. "It's definitely a situation where we wanted wherever he landed to be a place where they were willing to fight to get him eligible (now)."
Carr showed his potential in the ACC this past season with 22 points against North Carolina and 16 points and 12 assists against Syracuse. In his final game with Pitt this March, he scored 18 points against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament.
"I’m excited for him," Massiah said. "He can score, he can lead a team and he can play pick-and-roll. There’s not a whole lot he can’t do as a guard. In Coach Pitino’s style and the way he wants to play where it’s a guard-oriented attack, you’re getting one of the more underrated players in the country."
The Gophers backcourt depth for next season is a concern, especially with freshman Isaiah Washington as the only true point guard on the roster able to play in 2018-19. Returning starters Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer both play more off the ball.
Pitino said earlier Monday before Carr committed that he's open to having McBrayer or Coffey play some point guard if needed, but he was still looking to add another ball handler to help right away if he could.
"I think more than anything it's to provide flexibility," Pitino said on the Gophers Road Trip. "With whoever you do take that's important. You can always move pieces around. You can put Dupree at the point. You can go with Amir at (shooting guard). You can put Amir at the point. I just like versatility and flexibility. So it is important that we add a good piece with that and not just take anybody. Just be patient. The way things are going you never know who is going to pop up and transfer at any moment."
Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate transfer Brock Stull also could be visiting the Gophers soon. Stull, a 6-foot-4 guard from Illinois, averaged 13.4 points and 3.1 assists as a junior this season. He played with former Gophers guard Akeem Springs and played for new assistant Rob Jeter at Milwaukee two years ago.
The Gophers now have five players as part of the 2018 recruiting class, including local high school prospects Daniel Oturu, Gabe Kalschuer and Jarvis Omersa.