Theo John and the Howard Pulley Panthers are less than a week away from the Peach Jam. It’s a big moment for the 6-foot-9 center from Champlin Park High School (MN) and a moment that co-relates to Theo’s recruiting and the 13 high major offers he’s earned.
The Panthers currently stand at 14-2 in EYBL play and 32-2 overall on the season. Playing through some nagging spring injuries Theo has given his team 6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 17 minutes a game shooting over 58 percent from the field.
John and his long time Howard Pulley teammates Gary Trent Jr, Brad Davison, Tre Jones, and others have one big goal in mind and with Tre now cleared to play the team will be at full strength.
"Our goal is to go down south and win the Peach Jam,” said Theo. “We had a good practice tonight, we’ve been working really hard in the gym. We know it’s going to be a different level of intensity and it’s going to be hard but we are ready to bring it.”
John has earned offers so far from Maryland, Purdue, Florida, DePaul, Memphis, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Marquette, Iowa, Texas Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, and the hometown Minnesota Gophers. Theo recently visited Purdue and liked what he saw in West Lafayette.
“Purdue is a great (program) and I got to take an unofficial visit there,” Theo said. “I got to meet the coaches and my family got to go down there and learn more about Purdue basketball as we didn’t know that much before the visit. I really like how much they pass the ball down inside and Purdue has great facilities and great people so it was a good visit.”
One of John’s more recent offers is from SEC country as the Gators extended. With Theo having family ties to southern warmth he is anxious to hear more about Florida.
“The thing about Florida is the weather, that is very attractive to me,” John said. “I’m a Caribbean dude so it’s attractive. My family is starting to develop a relationship with the coaches. We will maybe taking a visit there some time although we don’t have it planned. That’s up in the air right now. Florida would be a great opportunity.”
Marquette has long been considered by many to be a big contender for Theo John as he has a good connection to one of their assistant coaches.
“Marquette, me and Stan (Johnson) are really, really close, Coach Wojo is a great guy too,” said John. “The program looks like it’s going to be strong and they are also pretty close to home so there is that. They just show that they really want me and they really need me.”
The first team to offer John was the hometown Gophers and the Minnesota staff has been on Theo for over two years now letting them know how important he is to their future. John was on the Minneapolis campus last weekend so he took time to visit with Richard Pitino and his staff.
“It was a visit somewhat to Minnesota,” said Theo about last weekend. “I met with the coaches in their offices and stuff. Coach Pitino and his staff had a talk with me and my family about all the things that have happened and how they are going to move forward from that. They talked to me about how they would use me on the team. It was more of a meeting than it was a visit.”
The other reason that Theo was on campus was Gopher Team camp where John and nationally ranked teammate McKinley Wright led the Rebels to a 6-0 record over the weekend.
“Team camp was great,” said John. “To get the guys together in the middle of the summer was great as we were able to play a little bit more organized basketball as we are all used to play against each other in AAU with different guys so it’s different. It was a chance to start to slowly start building back up that chemistry with our teammates for next year.”
Where are the Gophers at with Theo John? They have been in the recruitment from day one and they have the advantage of being located close to Theo’s family which includes a younger sister and brother.
“It’s home so (Minnesota) obviously has that factor going for them,” John said about the Gopher program. “The coaches are great guys, they know what they are doing moving forward. They are doing a good job of getting to their guys and telling them what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s expected from them on and off the court. They seem to know what they are doing with their plans moving forward.”
Theo has three events to play with Howard Pulley at the Peach Jam, in Milwaukee, and out in Las Vegas. That’s what’s on his mind now and likely come August the nationally ranked big man will start locking on what he wants to do for college.
“It’s up in the air as far as when I will make a decision,” John said. “I’m going to wait through July to see if there are some new schools, but right now I’m just thinking about the schools that I have talking to me. But if a new school comes in that’s great and I would consider that. But I have more time to think.”
As a junior John gave Champlin Park 14 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks a contest playing on one of the most talented, and most balanced squads in Minnesota.