The recruiting circuit ebbs and flows in college basketball. The University of Minnesota men’s basketball program was in a bit of an ebb in 2013, as the Gophers were in the midst of transitioning between former head coach Tubby Smith and current coach Richard Pitino.
That transition isn’t always easy on recruiting, as the Gophers ended up with just one high school recruit in 2013, Daquein McNeil. Minnesota also added a junior college transfer in DeAndre Mathieu, who will be considered part of the recruiting class for these purposes.
Mathieu put together two very solid seasons for the Gophers, but in reality the Minnesota’s recruiting Class of 2013 was basically nonexistent, as the only true high school recruit lasted one year in college basketball.
The recruiting struggles showed for a couple years, as Minnesota went 18-15 in 2014-15 and 8-23 in 2015-16. However, the Gophers bounced back with a couple of solid classes that led to a 23-8 record this past season.
Mathieu took the long route to Minnesota. An undersized guard, Mathieu was lightly recruited out of Knoxville Central High School in Tennessee despite averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 4.8 steals per game as a senior in 2010-11.
Mathieu spent his freshman season as a walk-on at Morehead State University, where he averaged 2.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds per game. He established himself quickly at Morehead, appearing in 29 games, including starting the final nine games.
Mathieu moved on to Central Arizona Community College in Maricopa, Arizona. He broke out there, averaging 17.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.1 rebounds en route to being named the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
It was there that he caught the eye of Pitino, and Mathieu committed to spend his final two years of eligibility in Minnesota. Mathieu started 63 of his 71 career games with the Gophers, including all 38 his first year in the program.
Mathieu was third on the team with 12.0 points per game as a junior, while adding 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and shooting 48.9 percent from behind the 3-point line. Mathieu’s scoring numbers dipped as a a senior in 2014-15, but he still averaged 8.6 points, 4.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.
The first recruit Pitino signed at Minnesota, McNeil committed to the Gophers just two weeks after Pitino took over as head coach. A three-star recruit out of Baltimore, McNeil showed promise as a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who averaged 19.0 points per game as a senior at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont.
McNeil’s college career got off to a decent start, as he appeared in 30 games as a true freshman on a Minnesota team that went 25-13 in 2013-14. McNeil averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game, but that was the last time he would suit up for the Gophers. McNeil was arrested in the fall of 2014 and charged with two felony counts of assault, and was eventually no longer enrolled at Minnesota.