I’ll admit, I’m still getting used to the ruthless efficiency Richard Pitino is showing in all things basketball. It’s actually incredibly disorienting to have someone in charge who’s not only resourceful, but also great at what they do. Like, no one before him thought to turn the Bierman Complex basketball court into a makeshift practice facility?
I really don’t like recruiting. I’d rather pretend that basketball players grow on trees, or are delivered by storks, who may or may not be sponsored by shoe companies. Trying to divine the thoughts of ever fickle teenagers, or translating YouTube videos into future on court performance doesn’t exactly lend itself to the analysis we try to provide here. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about recruits for a while, and can focus on the much more interesting topic of roster management and succession planning.
In the last couple of weeks, while the summer slowly drifted away, Richard Pitino secured two more commitments to the Golden Gophers, giving the team a top 25 recruiting class. Both players, guard Dupree McBrayer and center Jonathan Nwankwo, have ties to the New York City area. Kevin Dorsey, who committed earlier this summer, is from Maryland. There won’t be any new faces with Minnesota ties this season, with Bakary Konate, Nate Mason, and Josh Martin hailing from out of state, or out of the country. Pitino had one freshman in his first recruiting class, and Daquein McNeil isn’t from around here either.
Last night we learned that Gaston Diedhiou was not admitted to the University of Minnesota for the fall semester, and therefore, won’t be joining the team this fall. Orginally from Mali, and currently living in Spain, the Gopher power forward recruit did not demonstrate sufficient English proficiency to be admitted to the university. The plan, as it stands, is for him to complete an English language classes during the fall semester as a non-student and enroll during the second semester. He would then presumably join the team. It isn’t ideal to lose a player a week before classes start, but in terms of basketball, this isn’t a big deal. Diedhiou , if he wasn’t red-shirted, would have been a fourth-string center or a third-string power forward.
This morning Kevin Dorsey, a 6’0″ point guard out of Maryland, confirmed that he had verbally committed to join the Golden Gophers for the 2015-2016 basketball season. That season is nearly a year and a half away, giving the team two point guards of the present, and two of the future.
Before Dan McHale joined Richard Pitino’s coaching staff, he was an assistant at Seton Hall. The Pirates were in a similar position to the Golden Gophers. They were a high- major program, but usually not the first choice for high-major recruits. Necessity being the mother of invention, the Pirates sought recruits in nontraditional places, especially the Canarias Basketball Academy (CBA). The Gophers are following that same strategy.
There will be no replacing Austin and Andre Hollins. With the same last names, similar first names, same hometowns, and the sheer confusion they cause unprepared commentators, they will never be forgotten. On the court, it has been a joy to watch them grow into leaders, and it will be sad to see them move on to bigger and better things. That is, unless they never leave… No, this isn’t the beginning of a Halloween inspired tale of backcourt cloning, except in a way it is. Richard Pitino has decided to replace the Hollinses with themselves, or at least their doppelgangers.
This off-season’s recruiting is beginning to look a bit like early 2008, except that the Gophers are hardly in dire straits when it comes to ball handlers. The news that Riley LaChance will play for Vanderbilt could have been grounds to panic. Thankfully, Richard Pitino understands the importance of ball handlers, and has fully stocked his back court shelf for the next two seasonon.
Minnesota, and attrition, finally won out. Josh Martin has verbally committed to the Golden Gophers, and plans to suit up starting in the 2014-2015 season. On a roster nearly devoid of non-centers and non-guards, the 6’8″ 230 pound power forward fills a position of need for Richard Pitino. Martin chose the Gophers over the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Florida State Seminoles.
Thursday will be another day to monitor twitter closely. Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn will be announcing his college choice. Even though he would be the perfect point guard for Richard Pitino’s system, a fan favorite, and a hero the over 50 crowd (what a name!) things aren’t looking good, as Down With Goldy points out in agonizing detail.