Richard Pitino has brought a lot of attrition to the program, which, for a new coach, isn’t entirely surprising. But the amount of roster turnover during that past two seasons has been particularly hard to follow, with plenty of new recruits, transfers and other various reasons for players to come and go.
A year ago we said goodbye to some seniors and welcomed a bevy of new faces. Next year will be the same, and with several new faces recently announced, it’s a perfect time to get to know the new guys. In fact, if you count Zach Lofton as a recruit, the Gophers have six commitments, five of whom could conceivably get playing time next year. Talk about turnover.
At this point, the playing time and redshirt situation is anyone’s guess, but we DO know who will be here when things get started in November.
The 2014 Recruits
Josh Martin, PF, Bothell (WA) High School
Get ready for Hulk. Martin, a 6’9″, 230-pound power forward, is a true character from the Seattle area, and the most likely of the incoming freshman to impact the team next year, if nothing else because the Gophers are so thin at the position. Martin chose the Gophers over Pitt and Florida State, and brings a highlight reel of dunks to the table. In fact, the dude actually broke a backboard this season from throwing it down so hard. Rumor is he’s actually still growing and is approaching 6’10″.
Gaston Diedhiou, PF, Canarias (Spain) Basketball Academy
Say it a few times .. Gaston Diedhiou. Pronounced Gas-TONE Dee-EYE-doo. He comes to the Gophers as a fairly under-the-radar recruit and is definitely a project, albeit one with nice upside. Originally from Senegal, Diedhiou is similarly sized to Martin (6’9″, 225-ish), but isn’t quite as polished. Per TheGopherReport, which has a nice write-up about him:
“Diedhiou has a good size frame backed up by his athleticism. In the limited video of his game I was able to track down it appears he has the ability to run the floor as well as defend the low post and hedge the pick and roll.”
Canarias has produced a lot of good D-I talent over the years, so the risk is a calculated one for Pitino. Also check out Late Night Hoops’ write-up about him for additional background.
Bakary Konate, C, Sunrise (Kansas) Christian Academy
Noticing a trend with recruits here? Pitino is going big, and rightfully so. Konate is another presence down low, originally from Mali, giving the Gophers another African connection in frontcourt. And at 6’11″, 220 pounds, Konate has plenty of frame to add size. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to develop some good nicknames when Konate and Diedhiou man the posts together in the future.
Konate chose the Gophers over Texas A&M, Creighton and Tulane and actually had interest from Louisville back when Pitino was an assistant. He has a noted ability to defend the rim (duh) and run the floor, which fits well with the system Pitino likes to run. According to The Gopher Report, he has decent shot for a big man, but has room to improve on offense. You can pronounce his name like this: Bah-CAR-ay Ko-Naw-Tay.
Nate Mason, G, Montrose (MD) Christian High School
Mason was a fall commit and brings a combo guard presence that could earn him significant playing time right out of the gate. At 5’11, he’s considered a scoring guard in a point guard’s body, but it’s certainly too early to tell how he’ll be used in Pitino’s system. The Daily Gopher has a nice profile on Mason, as does Late Night Hoops.
Carlos Morris, G, Chipola (FL) Junior College
“Squirrel” Morris brings another fun nickname and an additional guard presence to the Gophers. Originally a pretty nice prospect set to go to South Carolina, he didn’t have qualifying test scores and opted to go the JUCO route. The Gophers outdid Seton Hall and UAB to get his services.
As a JUCO transfer, he’ll have two years of eligibility and should have enough experience to contribute right away. He’s known as a scorer and a defender, so would be a natural fit to fill at least some of the initial void left by Austin Hollins. At 6’6″ he brings some good length. Check out The Daily Gopher’s write up for some good background.
Zach Lofton, G, Illinois State
Lofton has taken a long road to get to the Gophers. Originally a local prep standout at Columbia Heights, he went the JUCO route initially before ending up at Illinois State. He’s always wanted to be a Gopher, which is great to hear, so having him amped to be in town and fulfill his dream of contributing to the program is a fun story.
At 6’4″, Lofton brings an immediate impact to the Gophers from a shooting perspective and is a dynamic presence on offence. Per Marcus in his story on Lofton: “[He] has deep shooting range, can beat his defender off the dribble and is an athletic finisher in transition.” At Illinois State last season he averaged 11.3 points per game.
Lofton will likely have to sit a year, per NCAA transfer rules, but should be ready to contribute for two years starting in 2015.