The Open Period is done and the point guard and frontcourt prospects that the Gophers are focused on in the 2017 class look clear. Today in The Hot Board, GI runs you through each of those top prospects as we enter the next phase of recruiting, visit season.
Number One: Jericho Sims
Position: Power Forward
The Competition: UCONN, Creighton, and Ohio State are the latest offers. Oregon, Xavier, Texas, Iowa State, Nebraska, and Kansas State was at everything he did in July joining Richard Pitino and Minnesota in putting forth the most effort to recruit Jericho.
Reasoning: He’s number one because of his potential, his improvements towards that potential, he’s a local product who lives 15-20 miles from campus but goes to school two miles from campus, and his father and brother are both former Gophers so he is a legacy recruit as well.
Chances: Minnesota’s Ben Johnson has been all over this recruitment long before they even offered early last spring. Sims is completely wide open and has taken several Minnesota visits as well as visits to Nebraska and Kansas State in recent times. There is really no telling which way he is leading but several close to the situation feel he will go with what’s most comfortable and many feel that will be Minnesota but nobody really knows for sure with any great certainty so anything could happen.
Number Two: Theo John
The Competition: Cal and Oklahoma. Illinois, Marquette, and Purdue made Theo’s final six but based on the fact that their head coaches didn’t come to any of Theo John’s seven games (Marquette, Illinois, and Purdue assistants did come to some) I would say that Minnesota’s top competition is Cal and Oklahoma. Marquette was said to be the location of his first official visit in September and that may very well be the case, but Marquette put little effort into seeing Theo in Las Vegas.
Reasoning: He’s number two because he’s a local product that Minnesota was first to offer a year and a half ago, he’s got strong potential to be a big time defensive low post player, and Theo was important enough to Minnesota that Richard Pitino saw him six times in Las Vegas.
Chances: Theo and his family are very close. They are wonderful people who are at everything the other does. Theo also has a younger brother and sister who have solid high school careers that haven’t even started yet. The biggest concern with Minnesota was the recent spring happenings in the paper (since then Kevin Dorsey was let go from the team and Reggie Lynch wasn’t charged with anything). Oklahoma and Cal are strong players here but based on coaches watching their top targets Minnesota is way more interested than the other schools (Lon Kruger and Cuonzo Martin saw two of the seven games each).
Number Three: McKinley Wright
Position: Point Guard
The Competition: Dayton and Iowa State. Xavier and Memphis made his final list on Saturday but right now Minnesota and Dayton look to be the leaders with Iowa State right there too.
Reasoning: I don’t have him at number one anymore because it’s become clear that he wants to take visits and enjoy them and at this moment that looks more important than coming to a decision soon and in that time there is a chance that other lead guards could also look at Minnesota and maybe take the spot (same can be said for Dayton and Iowa State). He is still most important though because he’s local, a hard working talent, and a teammate of Jericho (AAU) and Theo (high school).
Chances: McKinley could be a Big Ten guard, starter for three years and contributor for four, playing in a system that fits him as good as any in his hometown at Minnesota. He is interested in that but loved the Iowa State visit last winter and also loves that Dayton has had recent success. Minnesota is still right there but it seems that Wright wants to take his time with this and I suspect that out of his main teams, one or two of them will fill that spot before he chooses. The question is, who will it be that fills the spot? Xavier could come into play later if they miss on several other targets, Memphis must of just started talking to him again with more effort as they hadn’t been brought up in a while.
Number Four: Isaiah Washington
Position: Point Guard
The Competition: Added recent offers from Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Xavier plus recently said Syracuse is his dream school. Texas A&M, Seton Hall, and New Mexico joined Minnesota in being the most active in recruiting him in July.
Reasoning: Washington has big time potential at both ends of the floor, loved his Minnesota visit, has strong interest in Minnesota, and is a four star prospect. The Gophers have been on Washington as long as any 2017 player, he may have even been there first offer in this class (or at least the guy with the longest standing offer that they are still on).
Chances: I’ve talked to many who think Minnesota is the leader for Isaiah, but I’ve also talked to many who have said they really have no idea when he will decide or if he’s close to deciding. Washington told GI in Las Vegas that he is very likely to visit Minnesota officially this fall. The Gophers are surely in a good spot here with Washington liking his visit and being very familiar with the program. If Isaiah makes an early decision I can see it being for the maroon and gold but if it lingers on that anything can happen.
Number Five: Wabissa Bede
Position: Point Guard
The Competition: Bede has added so many new options that it’s tough to really know right now which of all those are his top options. He’s also been on the road constantly so hasn’t had time to really sit down and relax to go over everything. And his team is so heavily recruited that just about every school out there was at his games for any number of his teammates or himself.
Reasoning: Minnesota was the first high major program in July to see him, evaluate him, and pull the trigger on an offer for him (he had offers from others before that, but Minnesota was first to offer in the eval period followed by Dayton). Bede is a tough, physical leader that any school would want and the Gophers have significant interest in him and he has responded well to their interest.
Chances: Everybody is fitting to get a visit for him. That includes Oklahoma, Mizzou, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Dayton, Seton Hall, Butler, VCU, Boston College, Temple, and others. This is very wide open but Minnesota’s timing, effort, and ability to put the ball in Bede’s hands early gives them a decent shot but the field is open, it’s continually growing, and it’s big.
Number Six: Isaiah Livers
The Competition: Michigan, Michigan State, Cal, and Butler. Livers has talked about setting up trips in September to Cal and Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State offered later in the month and right now they are a huge factor but the question is where in the pecking order is Livers for them. He told GI that he will visit both locals as well.
Reasoning: Livers is one of the biggest names to come out of July as the Gophers staff followed all of his games at the Peach Jam, in Milwaukee, and in Las Vegas. Richard Pitino was at several and Ben Johnson is the guy recruiting Livers and has put together a strong relationship.
Chances: In talking to Livers, it seems that Ben Johnson is as close to Isaiah as any recruit from any school. I would expect visits to Cal, Minnesota, and the local schools. Michigan is hard after several five star forward prospects and just made the top five for Kyle Young. The narrative for many of the same recruits is the same when talking Michigan State. Minnesota offered early and will get a visit, they have a strong chance with Livers but it seems like a lot will come down to how serious the locals are for Livers and what his response is to their recruiting focus on their several targets.
Number Seven: Jamir Harris
The Competition: Boston College, Ivy League schools, had previous offers from Alabama, Creighton, Seton Hall, and USC, and he’s also had Stanford watching which makes sense with the academic pedigree being there. We saw BC, the Ivys, Alabama, and USC at his games when we were present.
Reasoning: Minnesota had Jamir in on a visit in June and is very high on his game, we just don’t have him as high as we have never seen him play lead guard. He has played only on the wing with the NJ Playaz although they play four guys 6-ft-2 or shooter so talking position is tough. Minnesota’s focus is the point guard spot and it’s been said they strongly believe he can play it in the same style of Nate Mason.
Chances: The chances are good that Minnesota can get him and he seems to fit that role of what Nate Mason and Andre Hollins were as 17U guys being transition scorers and three-point shooters. They will have to battle with some of the high academic name brand schools.
Number Eight: Marcus Carr
Position: Point Guard
The Competition: Pitt, Cincinnati, and Missouri look like the main schools with Pitt Coach Kevin Stallings being the coach that has been after him the hardest and the longest. Carr scored ten points last night for Team Canada in the Adidas Nations title game so he will need a bit more time to relax and then make some decisions on what’s next. It’s a safe bet that Pitt will get an early visit and then from there it could be any of the others.
Reasoning: Minnesota made a strong effort to see Carr and is likely the school coming on the strongest as of late. They have always been talking to him the past two years but have lately turned up their efforts to bring him in as an upper tier target.
Chances: For me that all depends on the if and when of a visit to Minnesota. When does that visit happen? Do they get him in for an unofficial in August or does he come to Minnesota after some of the other lead guards in the fall (which would likely be after visits to other schools for him).
Number Nine: Jacob Epperson
The Competition: Right now I would say the competition is all that offered and that includes West Virginia, Purdue, Oklahoma, TCU, Utah, Marquette, Cincinnati, and the others who may offer later. Jacob is from Australia, played in the States for two weeks and then went back to Australia. He’s going to move here for high school this winter.
Reasoning: A skilled center who has a coach with ties to Nate Pomeday, the Gophers tracked him and offered him before he went back to Australia for the rest of the summer.
Chances: Epperson won’t arrive back in the US until later in the summer and then he has to focus on his move and settling in. A lot can be done by schools with other targets before Epperson is ready to go on some visits so who wants him the most will be made clearer when he starts scheduling visits.
Number Ten: Hasahn French
The Competition: The dozen other schools on his paired down list of 13 schools last week. If anybody has an early edge of those 13 I would say it would by UMASS and VCU only because he will be taking unofficial visits to those schools this week.
Reasoning: French has been a name on the Gopher list for two years and he’s in the mold of the hard working forwards that play with activity that Minnesota is looking at. A different player than Livers but same in size, both are active, both are forwards that can do a lot.
Chances: The Gophers watched him with PSA several times in July but exactly where they fit in the 13 is unclear. Is he at the top for them? Are they near the top for him? Very unclear right now but Minnesota did offer 13 months ago and has been in contact regularly.