It's been a week since the Gophers turned most of their attention toward filling their 2017 class frontcourt need with Commonwealth Academy (Mass.) power forward Hasahn French.
French, who is scheduled to arrive for an official visit to Minnesota on Friday, is now the top priority for Minnesota coach Richard Pitino after Champlin Park senior Theo John informed the Gophers last Monday he would be committing to Marquette.
Pitino and assistant Kimani Young actually watched French at his high school open gym in Massachusetts last Tuesday, the same day John announced his college decision at Champlin Park. They clearly moved on to a player who could be another key piece to Minnesota's 2017 recruiting class, joining four-star St. Raymond's (N.Y.) point guard Isaiah Washington.
"He's comfortable with that coaching staff," Commonwealth Academy coach Tony Bergeron said. "He'll be taking his official visit very soon. He's exctied about it. It'll get him on campus. Basically, he's trying to connect some dots. Get a feel for what campus life is like. Get a chance to have his mother come up there with him. They're just kind of on a fact finding mission gathering information."
French narrowed his list of schools Friday to Marquette, Massachusetts, Minnesota, VCU, Saint Louis and UNLV. So far he's made an official visit to Marquette. He has two more trips scheduled with the Gophers and Saint Louis (Sept. 30). He's already taken unofficials to VCU and UMass.
French doesn't have the height to play center like John, who is 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds. But the 6-7 Middletown, N.Y. native is an enforcer inside. His athleticism and ball skills are also a matchup problem for bigger post players. French's combination of power (almost 240 pounds), legnth (7-1 wingspan) and toughness should allow him to be ready to play immediately as a freshman.
"He's got a little bit of (former Connecticut star) Jeff Adrien and a little bit of Draymond Green in him," Bergeron said. "The kid steps out and shoots the ball very well. He goes off the dribble. He's a lefty. His standing reach is very, very high. His first, second and third jumps are all equal. He's very athletic. College ready body at 237 pounds. So he's very strong but he's fast. He's not super quick laterally. But he's fast. He can put it on the floor and go by people. So he's a real matchup problem."
The Gophers will be losing some toughness when graduate transfer Akeem Springs is gone after the 2016-17 season, so it will be critical to add a physical player like French to the roster.
Washington, who is from the Bronx, has been recruiting French on Twitter to come join him at the U. They both have a connection with Young, a fellow New York City native and former New Heights AAU director.
"I’m pretty cool with the Minnesota coaches,” French told GopherIlustrated.com last month. “Coach Pitino, Coach Kimani, I’m really cool with them. They are moving their program forward and they have been recruiting me for a very long time and they continue to come after me pretty hard."