JF

In his final few years at the helm of the Golden Gophers basketball team, Tubby Smith looked tired. Maybe he was beaten down by the endless string of bad luck, or simply resigned to his fate. He rarely looked like someone who enjoyed his job, and that played no small part in fans no longer enjoying how Tubby Smith did his job. Richard Pitino was billed as the opposite. He was supposed to be tireless, both on and off the court, and he has proven that in his first month on the job, especially on the recruiting trail.

During his whirlwind first month with the Gophers, which coincided with the April evaluation period, Coach Pitino has maintained a feverish travel schedule, offering several elite players in the 2014 class. While the Big Three of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn, and Reid Travis will still be priorities, they will not be the only options. It is not a coincidence that many of the players offered recently play the same positions of the Big Three. With the possibility of five open scholarships for the class of 2014, there would still be space for additional players even if all of the Big Three did commit.

Kaleb Joseph –  6’3”, 165 pound Point Guard, Nashua, N.H.

Ratings: ESPN – 4 stars, Rivals – 4 stars, 247 –  4 stars, Scout – 4 stars

Other notable offers:  Boston College, Maryland, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Tennessee, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia

Joseph is one of the top point guards in the country not named Tyus Jones, and there doesn’t seem to be much reason to fear his last name, even if various other Josephs were the worst thing to happen to the Gophers in the last decade.  He can do it all on the offensive end, and is good shooter and great ball handler. His defense could reportedly use a bit of work, just like 90% of high school players. With his size and quickness, he at least has the tools to be a very good defender.

Terry Larrier – 6’7” 200 pound small forward,  Bronx, N.Y.

Ratings: ESPN – 4 stars, Rivals- not rated,  247 – not rated  , Scout – 3 stars

Other notable offers:  St. John’s, Providence, Penn State, Rutgers, West Virginia, Pitt, Maryland

Larrier blew up in the last month, and was previously without any high-major.   As such, the Gophers were one of the first high-majors to offered, and Kimani Young’s New York ties may give them an edge. Larrier is most comfortable around the three-point line, but has started to attack the basket and play in the post, inevitably leading to his growing list of scholarship offers.

Sandy Cohen –  6’5’’  180 pound  combo guard, Seymour, Wisconsin

Ratings: ESPN – not rated, Rivals – 3 stars, 247 – not rated, Scout – not rated

Other notable offers:  Marquette, Memphis, George Washington, La Salle

Cohen’s play in Aprl was so surprising that ESPN  and 247 don’t even know he exists.  He has great size, is a good ball handler, and has a good outside shot. Because of his size, it isn’t a surprise that it only took two good games to start a small flood of scholarship offers. Cohen plays on Rashad Vaughn’s AAU team,  but it is unclear how that will impact his recruitment.

Isaiah Whitehead – 6’4” 195 pound shooting guard, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ratings: ESPN – 4 stars, Rivals 5 stars , 247 – 4 stars, Scout – 4 stars

Other notable offers: Arizona, Florida,  Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky,  Louisville, Maryland, St. John’s, Syracuse, UCLA

If nothing else, Richard Pitino is bold. There is no reason not to offer a scholarship to one of the elite players in the country. At worst, Whitehead will go elsewhere, which is exactly where he would go without an offer from the Gophers. It is difficult to believe that the Gophers have much of chance with Whitehead, but Young and Pitino have a foot in the door, which is new for the Gophers when dealing with east coast talent. The younger Pitino will be competing with his newly tattooed father for Whitehead’s services, which adds an interesting wrinkle.


Abdul-Malik Abu – 6’8” 220 pound Power Forward, Boston, MA

Ratings: ESPN – 4 stars, Rivals – 4 stars, 247 – 4 stars, Scout – 4 stars

Other notable offers: Kansas, Connecticut, Iowa State, Maryland, Miami, West Virginia, NC State, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida

Abu might be a bit on the skinny side to play power forward in the Big Ten right now, but he has a year to add strength. His athleticism has led to excellent defense and rebounding, and he has started to refine his low-post moves. He has also been working on an outside shot, which could make him nearly impossible to defend.

 Jalyn Patterson – 6’1” 170 pound, Point Guard, Alpharetta, GA

Ratings: ESPN – 3 stars, Rivals – 3  stars, 247 – not rated, Scout – 3 stars

Other notable offers: Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech

Patterson is a bit of a sleeper on a very talented high school team, and hit the winning basket in the National High School Invitational championship game. The Gophers are the first program outside of his home region to offer, and are arguably the best offer he has. Bonus points for the old-timey feel of the highlight reel, with lasers, of course.