Each off-season the college basketball coaching carousel begins to spin, and as coaches settle in to their new jobs, the recruiting carousel begins. Players commit to coaches as much as they commit to schools, so it is not surprising that recruits often reevaluate their plans when there is a coaching change. Alex Foster and Alvis Ellis, two of Tubby Smith’s recruits, won’t be playing for the Gophers next year. Daquein McNeil, a point guard out of Baltimore, apprently will.
McNeil, who at 6’3” and 170 pounds is comparable to Austin Hollins, had previously committed to Richard Pitino at Florida International University, and has decided to follow his coach. His named popped up on Monday when he was released from his scholarship at FIU. ESPN reports that McNeil was also offered scholarships by Oklahoma, Louisville, Richmond, Rutgers, VCU and Washington. It should be noted that the business of offering scholarships is murky at best, so those teams’ actual interest in McNeil may never be known.
It is known that the Gophers desperately needed another ball handler, and McNeil is definitely that. Julian Welch’s graduation left the Gophers with only two capable ball handlers, or one depending on your oppinion of Maverick Ahanmisi. Both Andre Hollins and Ahanmisi are most effective when they can look for their own shot and don’t have to worry about getting their teammates involved. Hollins still might be a step slow in terms of getting by defenders. Ahanmisi is capable spot up shooter but not capable of running an offense when there is a shot clock. McNeil probably won’t start, but if can be productive for 15 minutes per game, that is 15 minutes when Hollins and Ahanmisi can focus on what they do best.
With McNeil’s commitment, the Gophers still have three more scholarship’s to fill. Spring recruiting is just getting started.
A brief perusal of youtube found the following videos.
McNeil is number 11 in black. Shane Rector, who has been linked to the Gophers, is number 11 in white.