Upon Minnesota’s hiring of Richard Pitino we wrote COULD RICHARD PITINO BRING A STAR FORWARD TO MINNESOTA? (April 3, 2013). The article discussed FIU-bound Jonathan Holton and his JUCO teammate Kevin Thomas, noting that, “[p]ower forward is a position of need for next year’s team and Pitino could potentially deliver in a major way.”
Late Night Hoops visited a Palm Beach State (Fla.) practice several months prior to the article and believed either player could be provide a significant boost to the roster.
As things turned out, Holton wound up at West Virginia and Kevin Thomas at Troy. Let’s take a look at how they are performing this season.
No. If anything, the 2014 RSCI #7 Jones is underrated.
His feel and understanding of the game of basketball is truly special and nothing short of remarkable. You’ll often see him described as a “pass first point guard” along with a comment about his relative lack of athleticism. The “pass first” description is fine, but make no mistake – Tyus Jones can put points on the board with the best of them and will get flat out nasty scoring the ball when he needs to.
College basketball fans across the country will say, “Wow, I didn’t know Jones could do THAT” this year.
2015 Big Jonathan Nwankwo Commits to Minnesota
Scholarship Table Updated
2015 C/PF Jonathan Nwankwo, 6’9″, 245 pounds, committed to the Minnesota Golden Gophers today while on his official visit.
He’s a New Yorker who plans to play this season in Florida at Victory Rock Prep. The relationship between him and the Gophers goes back more than a year. As was the case with fellow 2015 commits Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey, the pledge to Minnesota was not a surprise.
With 5th year seniors Elliott Eliason and Mo Walker finishing their careers before next summer, Nwankwo will have an opportunity to earn minutes both as a center and power forward.
He’s a big, strong kid who can help rebound and defend (so long as he keeps fouls in check) early on. How well he progresses with the ball in his hands is up to him and the staff. The potential is there to be a quality player for Pitino.
The scholarship table has been updated and is included at the end of these notes. This commitment is not at all a surprise and we’ve long thought he’d wind up a Gopher. Nonetheless, McBrayer is a very good addition to the program.
The 6’4″ lefty guard may grow a bit taller despite already being 19.
He’s been at various high schools and needs to finalize a decision on his prep school for this year. Vermont Academy, where rising sophomore Daquein McNeil attended, is a strong possibility.
Talented and exciting scorer. He can put on a show and wow the crowd.
Capable of bringing the ball up the court, but figures to play off the ball on offense. Not a lot of physical strength, but his size should enable him to defend multiple positions (1, 2 and 3).
LNH last saw him in person a few weeks ago in Vegas where he played with New Heights. Gopher assistant Kimani Young was the director of the New Heights organization and a consistent spectator at McBrayer’s games.
Dupree was impressive when viewed live. However, he had at least 2 years on most of the competition. How much did he benefit from the age advantage is a relevant question.
Minnesota will now have two big guards/wings who are aggressive scorers in Zach Lofton and Dupree McBrayer. The 2015-16 Gophers will be able to unleash a mean attack on opposing defenses.
8/26/14 edit: Not a surprise, but Gaston Diedhiou is not expected to join the program this fall. Based on the roster makeup we do not see this as a significant issue. The scholarship table below includes Diedhiou, but most likely he will never join the program. Thus, the Gophers still have 3 “open slots” for new scholarship players in 2015 after the McBrayer commit.
This year’s Nike Global Challenge finished today. Schedule and game results can be found at NikeGlobalChallenge.com. Attached is a summary compilation of team and player stats, including traditional and advanced statistics for each player.
Minnesota Standouts Invited to Nike Elite 100 Camp June 13, 2014
Two Minnesota high school standouts are among those invited to the prestigious Nike Elite 100 Camp in St. Louis this weekend. The group is comprised of approximately two-thirds kids from the 2016 class (rising juniors) and a third from the 2017 class.
Hopkins high school’s Amir Coffey (2016) and Apple Valley’s Gary Trent, Jr. (2017) are the Minnesota representatives at the camp.
See below for a sortable and searchable table of other players invited to the camp. The player information, including height, weight, wingspan and what camp team they’ll be playing with, were provided by Nike (NikeEYB.com).