Nov 12, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Montana Grizzlies guard Keron DeShields (15) shoots between Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Austin Hollins (20), forward Joey King (24) and center Elliott Eliason (55) during the second half at Williams Arena. Minnesota defeated Montana 84-58. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Gophers narrowly missed out on in-state recruit Reid Travis last week. This served as a major disappoint as many believed the Gophers were the front runner to land the De La Salle High School star. Despite missing out, the Gophers will still have at least one scholarship available for the 2014 class.
Who are the Gophers looking at?
- Rashad Vaughn is a guy that would have an incredible impact on the program immediately. Richard Pitino has been working on him and will continue working on him up until the minute he commits. Look for the Gophers to be in contention with Iowa State and UNLV.
- Abdoulaye Gueye is an elite big man from Alabama whom Pitino has been chasing. The young man has been waiting to get his test results in order but expect him to be a spring commit.
- Josh Cunningham, who had reportedly ruled Minnesota out, has decided to choose in the spring instead of the fall. This could give Pitino the ability to get back in the running for his commitment, especially if he can give off a good vibe as a first year coach in the Big Ten.
- Delshon Strickland is an in-state guy who has been around the U a lot. He has already obtained a lot of offers from some pretty good programs including Virginia Tech and Auburn. It’s to be seen if his play this winter can persuade Minnesota to extend an offer.
Here’s the projected Gophers depth chart for the 2014-15 season:
Point Guard (2): Deandre Mathieu, Nate Mason
Wings (4): Andre Hollins, Carlos Morris, Daquein McNeil, Wally Ellenson
Forwards (4): Joey King, Oto Osenieks, Charles Buggs, and Josh Martin
Center (2): Elliot Eliason and Mo Walker
When I look at it by position, I notice the Gophers look strong at point guard and power forward. Minnesota has flexibility at the point guard with Mathieu, Mason and Hollins are all capable of bringing the ball up. McNeil could possibly contribute there as well.
Despite the disappointment of not landing Travis, the fact remains that the power forward position already has a lot of upside in the future. Next year, the Gophers will have incoming freshman Josh Martin, redshirt sophomore Charles Buggs, junior Joey King, and senior Oto Osenieks, barring a transfer or injury. You always want to jump at the chance of landing a top recruit like Travis but there is more of a need at the wing.
The areas I see as needs are at the wing and at center. Richard Pitino’s fast paced offense always requires high level and fast tempo guard play. This gives opportunity to more guards seeing court time, especially if the four-guard lineup is effectively implemented. The Big Ten produces some of the most premier guard play and the Gophers would be wise to add another athletic wing if possible.
There is also a need at center, although Walker and Eliason will be an effective center tandem next year, they will both be seniors. If the Gophers don’t add a center in this class, we could be asking a freshman center from the 2015 class to step in immediately after those two graduate.