Henry Guard Al Nolen Talks About Gopher Decision

Al Nolen Jr., a 6-foot-1 rising junior point guard from Minneapolis (MN) Patrick Henry, recently committed to the Gophers. He played for Minnesota Magic Elite AAU team that won the 2005 Kingwood Classic 16-and-Under title, a team that also featured Minnesota potential recruits Cole Aldrich and Blake Hoffarber. Nolen Jr. led the Patriots to a 23-6 mark as a sophomore as he averaged 10.7 points per game. GoldenSports.net caught up with Nolen in Las Vegas to talk about his Gopher decision.

I talked to Coach McKenzie about your commitment and he said that Minnesota was your dream school. What was it that made you realize that is was the place for you?

"I figured that I just wanted to stay home. My sister (Dominique) is going there next year, so she can probably help me out with school and stuff. I know Brandon Smith and Lawrence McKenzie, who both went to Henry. I think that when I get there as a freshman, Lawrence can really help me with college and show me the ropes. It's pretty much close to home."

The Minnesota Magic won the 16-and-under division of the Kingwood Classic in Houston in April and you are playing in Vegas. How much has that type of experience helped your game?

"It has helped my game a lot, because when we come out on the road, we play against stronger and quicker players. I have to be better with my ballhandling and stuff and be strong in taking it inside. I was not used to it when we first got out on the road, but I got used to it and I think that it is going to help me a lot going back to Minnesota and play, improve on stuff and help us a lot when we get to college."

Patrick Henry loses a lot of scoring with the graduation of Ross Forman, who signed with Wyoming and Brandon Mitchell. How will that affect your play this upcoming season?

"We will be all right. We've got me and Tim Saxon, who is ready to step up this year. We've got a new guy named Thurston who is going to play center. We'll be all right. We are going to have to play more full court this year. We go and practice four times a week. We've all been getting to the gym every day and playing together."

What was the reason for you deciding to commit so early? When I talked to Coach McKenzie, he said that the word was not supposed to come out until after Las Vegas."

" Minnesota was where I wanted to go, so there was no reason to fool around with it. I just wanted to get it over with."

What other schools were you hearing from?

"I was hearing from Illinois, Northern Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and a couple of other schools."


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