Because of transfers, injuries and underachievers, the last few Minnesota basketball recruiting classes have been hit or miss.
But this 2011 edition of Gopher roundball is giving Minny fans a reason to be hopeful.
For the first time since Rodney Williams and Royce White in 2009, Tubby Smith has landed a consensus four-star recruit in Andre Hollins.
Hollins is a 6'2", 190-pound shooting guard from White Station high school in Memphis and he has Gopher fans salivating.
"Hollins excites me more than any perimeter (player) Smith has recruited the last four years at Minnesota," Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said. "I predict Hollins will be an All-Big Ten player by his junior season if not sooner."
The Tennessee Mr. Basketball winner averaged 25 points and seven rebounds per game as a senior and most expect him to contribute early. Hollins has shown the ability to get to the hoop and shoot from beyond the arc, but ESPN says his midrange game could use some work.
"Hollins excites me more than any perimeter (player) Smith has recruited the last four years at Minnesota." - Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press
The compliment to Hollins is the locally grown Joe Coleman, from Hopkins high school in Minnetonka, Minn. Coleman is bigger (6'4", 200 pounds) and more explosive than Hollins with a weaker jump shot.
"I am absolutely excited about Hollins and Coleman. Both of these guys are more dynamic perimeter players than we are used to having here," Tom from The Daily Gopher said. "I don't think they'll be All-Americans but they'll be very good and give us something we didn't have on this most recent roster."
Adding to the run on guards Smith has made in the class is junior college transfer Julian Welch.
Welch spent a season at UC-Davis before playing a year at Yuba College, where he averaged 19 points and five assists per game en route to being named Bay Valley Conference player of the year.
"He looks to be a solid ball-handler and slasher, but I’m not sure about his outside shooting," Fuller said.
The class was rounded out with Andre Ingram, a 6'7" power forward from Butler Community College in Kansas. Ingram is a project who is athletic and plays solid defense but needs to work on his offensive game. He's reported to have an outstanding work ethic, though.
Mike Bargen, his coach at Butler C.C., told gopherhole.com that Ingram has only "scratched the surface" of his potential.
For now, Gopher fans are still happy with the coach's recruiting abilities.
"Each of his two most recent classes have done a good job at addressing particular needs," Tom said.
Smith's been lobbying the university for a new practice facility, but winning is all that will matter when it comes to improving the quality of recruits the Gophers bring in.
"Smith has to win at a higher level to sustain that level of enthusiasm and interest from top players," Fuller said. "Even with a practice facility, the Gophers still won’t bring in five-star recruits in my opinion because just about every school has a practice facility now."