Richard Pitino's second season behind the bench for the Gophers has insofar been mediocre. Sure, they are 11-4, but they dropped their first two Big Ten games to Purdue and Maryland, and now have a matchup looming with Ohio State on January 6. Minnesota had a good building block recruiting class this season, as I profiled previously here. I think, however, their class next year, coupled with the class this year, is what will help the Gophers make some noise.
Today, we'll be taking a look at their class of 2015. Currently the class has four players signed, with one scholarship remaining. We'll take a look at all four players, plus potential targets for that final scholarship.
As I stated above, the Gophers have the 39th best class in the country next season according to 247Sports. The full list can be found here.
Dorsey, a four-star point guard from Fairfax, Virginia, was Pitino's first commit in this class. It was a bit of a stunner when Minnesota landed him, because his CrystalBall projections were 100% Maryland, and the CrystalBall is rarely wrong. Dorsey committed after a strong summer season in the EYBL in which he averaged 12.5 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game against some of the best high school players in the country. Below is Dorsey's mixtape so you can see first hand what he brings to the table for the Gophers.
Johnson, a three-star point guard from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the lone player in this class from Minnesota. I wrote about Jarvis Johnson at length when he initially committed to the Gophers for BTP, which can be found right here.
McBrayer, a three-star shooting guard from Elizabeth, New Jersey, surprised some folks when he chose Minnesota over St. John's. Similar to Johnson, I profiled McBrayer when he initially committed for this site, which can be found right here.
Finally, we get to Jonathan Nwankwo. Nwankwo, a three-star center from Bronx, New York, is playing his high school basketball at Florida's Victory Rock Prep. Nwankwo is an interesting player. He's very raw, having moved from Nigeria to the United States in his freshman year in high school, but if Pitino & Company can harness that potential, Nwankwo could be a very good player for them. He chose Minnesota over Seton Hall, Tennessee, and Boston College, so his services were certainly in demand.
The remaining scholarship
Now is where this really gets fun. Minnesota has one scholarship remaining.
Early on, it looked like they'd be giving it to the best player in the state, and eventual Wisconsin commit, four-star power forward Alex Illikainen. However, after Jarvis Johnson committed, Minnesota ran into a bit of an issue with their remaining scholarship.
In a nutshell, Minnesota realized they were going to have to save the scholarship for 2014 commit Gaston Diedhiou, who had some enrollment/eligibility issues. They thought he was going to have to wait until 2015 to be able to enroll. However, on December 18, 2014, it was announced that Diedhiou was eligible to play for the Gophers and could enroll at Minnesota for the spring semester.
As of right now, the most likely player for the final scholarship is three-star combo guard Malik Ellison, from Vorhees, New Jersey. Ellison, the son of Louisville Cardinal legend Pervis Ellison, is thought to be headed to either Minnesota or Maryland according to CrystalBall predictions. He'd fit very nicely at Minnesota, however, it's worth noting that his sister, Aja, plays basketball at Maryland. Ellison hasn't set a date for his decision yet, so the Gophers will have to continue to wait and see.