The circumstances facing the Minnesota Gophers now have seemingly dashed any hopes of a post season run. Barring some sort of miraculous turn of events, many assume they will be slogging through the rest of the year. However, they have received some bright news: hope is on the horizon for the program. This hope came after three Minnesota commitments were listed on the Minnesota Mr. Basketball list.
Gabe Kalscheur, Jarvis Omersa, and Daniel Oturu are all in the running for the chance of being named Minnesota’s best high school player. All three committed to the Gophers in early November 2017. The diversity of the trio also bodes well for the future of Minnesota basketball. This is welcome news even in midst of one of the more tumultuous stretches in program history.
Richard Pitino nearly hit a grand slam by signing the top four ranked Minnesota prospects for next season. The one he missed out on, Tre Jones (brother to Tyus) was heavily recruited by the school. However, like the Jones brother before him, he choose to sign with the Duke Blue Devils.
Never the less, Minnesota was able to snag players two through four in the aforementioned list above. Although Jones is the favorite to win the Mr. Basketball award, the three future Gophers are surely in the running as well. With the high school season stretching into mid-March, it is still too early to tell who might win.
The three players Minnesota is bringing in all have cases for the honor. Kalscheur, a 6-foot-4 guard from De La Salle High School in Minneapolis is having a tremendous campaign so far. The four-star senior is averaging 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from the field. The Islanders have suffered just two losses on the year, one to Iowa City West and Hopkins, a team that is one division higher than De La Salle. It has been documented that a player does not need to be in the highest league in order to win a Mr. Basketball award. With a 7-2 overall record, Kalscheur and the Islanders currently sit atop the 3A poll.
Another 3A player, Jarvis Omersa, has led Orono High School to sixth in the division rankings. Omersa is listed as the third best player in the state, but only holds a three-star ranking. Despite a 6-5 record, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks per contest. This has come against formidable competition as well, Orono has played 4A schools like Hopkins and Cretin-Derham Hall this season. Unfortunately, those games against upper echelon teams have resulted in losses. However, Omersa’s averages alone warrant some Mr. Basketball consideration.
Lastly, there is Oturu, who is the best player overall to commit to the Gophers in this class. His school, Cretin-Derham Hall sits on top of the Class 4A rankings with a 10-1 record. Holding this high of status in such a competitive division has to impress on the outset. Yet, it is when we look at Oturu’s individual numbers where we become astounded. The 6-foot-10 center averages close to 18 points, 12 rebounds, and a gaudy six blocks per game. On top of those stupendous statistics, Oturu is shooting 68 percent from the field. Now, he does get plenty of baskets around the rim, but shooting that high of clip in the state’s highest high school league cannot not be undervalued.
Outside of the three that have already committed, there is one other player that has to have Richard Pitino excited for 2019-’20. Matthew Hurt, brother of current Gopher Michael, is averaging 37 points and almost 14 rebounds per game at Rochester John Marshall. Hurt is currently a junior, but has already received an offer from Minnesota as well as many other schools.
Anyway, you can take the sad state of affairs that Minnesota basketball is in right now and sulk. Or, you can look to the fact that the Gophers have possibly three Mr. Basketball finalists in their recruiting class this season. Not only that, they have their sights set on the 2018-’19 Minnesota Mr. Basketball favorite in Matthew Hurt. So take refuge in that fact alone. 2018-’19 is sure to be a bright season for Minnesota although it may not seem that way now. Beyond that, the future looks bright in Dinkytown.