Oct 14, 2011; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals associate coach Richard Pitino talks to his players during the first half at the KFC Yum! Center. The White squad defeated the Red squad 86-85. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Gopher Basketball: No need for panic, despite losing out on JP Macura

Dec 19, 2012; Louisville, KY, USA; Florida International Golden Panthers head coach Richard Pitino calls out instructions during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Florida International 79-55. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

This week has been a disappointing week for me as a Gopher fan.

For starters, JP Macura committed to Xavier on Monday, joining several other recruits committing elsewhere after entertaining the University of Minnesota as a possible destination. This is unfortunate because I think JP Macura is a very talented young man with a bright future ahead in college basketball.

Despite the bad news, it’s not yet time to panic, Minnesota.

We still have a lot of good leads in the Class of 2014, not to mention a coach that is willing to go the distance to bring these kids to Minnesota. The fact we have to write the names down to keep track of all the talent Pitino is attracting should be a point of pride, especially considering that all of Tubby’s recruits could be counted on one hand.

It’s a long recruiting process. Early signing period hasn’t started and it’s far too early to put up the white flag. I think Pitino’s coaching demeanor will attract a lot of attention and we could very well see the majority of our commitments coming later in the process, which is not uncommon for new coaches.

But in light of the aforementioned, what was most disheartening to me were the fan reactions to the news of Macura’s commitment to Xavier.

Many fans disregarded his commitment to Xavier as bad news, boasting that we have many more recruits ranked higher that would better fill the scholarship. These comments, although optimistic, were made in ignorance and set a bad precedent on what to strive for in the future.

I think it’s silly to shrug off this letdown. The Gophers have not excelled in recruiting over the past decade and landing Macura would have been not only a great start to a recruiting class, but in comparison to years past, a great top dog of the class.

Macura currently ranks 104th in the country according to Rivals. The last guy we landed that ranked higher than Macura (not including Royce White for obvious reasons) was Rodney Williams — he was rated only four spots higher than Macura in his class.

Andre Hollins was ranked 110th when he and Coleman (121st) together embodied their recruiting class; Tubby talked them up like he was some sort of elite recruiter.

Every once in a while we’ll find a diamond in the rough, and even less often we’ll land a top ranked recruit. But when we have the chance at landing a nationally ranked recruit, we shouldn’t shrug it off in hopes of landing someone better. It is important to want to land ranked recruits. A bird in the hands is better than two in the tree.

This also isn’t the time to bash Pitino’s recruiting abilities. A year ago, recruiting wasn’t even news to Minnesota fans. Sure, we heard about Gavin Schilling here and there as a point of excitement (ranked 125th in the country) but that whole time we knew we wouldn’t have much of a chance of landing him. The point is: Pitino is an ambitious recruiter who is getting kids to look at Minnesota and I trust that he’s building up this program by continuing to pursue top athletes.

The next big decision to focus in on is Lourawls Nairn. It will probably announce in late September after his trip to Indiana. His recruitment is still very wide open. He’s a smart young man who is careful not to tip his hand. He has mentioned that the Gophers are the team recruiting him the hardest.

I’m excited to see how the whole thing plays out. Go Gophers.

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Tags: Basketball Gophers Recruiting Richard Pitino

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