Dre Mathieu, a 5’8″ -5’11″ (could someone measure this kid, please) junior college point-guard out of Knoxville, Tennessee will be joining the Golden Gophers for the 2013-2014 season. He will have two seasons of eligibility. Despite a successful high school career which landed him on the all-state team, his lack of height scared away all Division I scholarship offers. A successful junior college season, one in which he scored 16.1 points per game and added six assists, and 6 rebounds, was enough to get him several scholarship offers and now a spot on the Gophers roster.
For everyone clamoring for a true point-guard, I guess you got what you are looking for, even if there is no such thing as a true point-guard. Mathieu’s junior college statistics indicate he is much more than just a passer. He can score, and his rebounding suggests that he is very athletic. We know he can dunk from youtube, but I would not be surprised if the secret to his rebounding success is getting to the right spot at the right time. Leaping ability alone does not get a player shorter than six feet tall six rebounds per game. With the addition of Mathieu, the Gophers back court rotation should be set. Minnesota was in the running for Allerik Freeman, a former UCLA recruit, but he will be playing for Baylor.
Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins will start at guard, and Joe Coleman should still start at forward trapped in a guard’s body. Mathieu along with Daquan McNeil, Richard Pitino’s other spring signee, give the Gophers good options off the bench. Mathieu will be the primary ball-handler while he is on the court. This will allow Andre Hollins to run off more screens, and hopefully get open off the ball. McNeil, a combo guard, should give the Gophers a true scorer off the bench, and allow Andre Hollins to be more of a distributer when needed. Maverick Ahanmisi won’t have to handle the ball at all, with three better point guard options ahead of him, meaning he can be the spot-up shooter he was meant to be. Austin Hollins should also get better looks from the outside. McNeil and Mathieu can get to the basket, which should draw some attention away from the senior guard.
The addition of two guards this offseason suggests that Richard Pitino is serious about trapping and pressing. The Gophers now have 15 team fouls to throw at opposing point-guards, and will have plenty of fresh legs to keep throwing at opponents. Of course, Tubby Smith also had a team seemingly built to press and trap, and we know how that worked out.
The front court is still an area of concern for the Gophers. If Pitino chooses to use another scholarship, he will be adding a power forward. Neither Oto Osenieks or Charles Buggs have played primarily as power forwards, and they are the best options for the Gophers right now.