NCB On The Trail: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Forty-six Division I schools came into the season with a new basketball coach. The vast majority of those changes were met with optimism and enthusiasm.

But with conference play now revving up, many first year coaches are dealing with the harsh reality that rebuilding isn’t going to happen overnight. And in those types of situations, sometimes your first year recruiting class can be more important than your win-loss record.

A coach’s first recruiting class is absolutely critical to his long-term success. It’s about more than just filling out next year’s roster. It’s about setting the tone for the way in which the staff and program will be viewed by prospects, high school coaches, and AAU coaches moving forward. And this time of year, when the product on the floor isn’t always something a coach can sell, making an initial splash on the recruiting trail is often times all it takes to develop the type of positive momentum to build on.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how seven first-year coaches are doing on the trail:

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Shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, Minn./Findlay College Prep), the No. 17 player in the ESPN 100, is being hotly pursued by several programs. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound prospect already has made two official visits (to Iowa State and UNLV) and recently set up a visit to North Carolina for Feb. 15, when the Tar Heels play Pittsburgh. For his final two visits, he is likely to choose among Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky and Minnesota.

Let's break down the game of one of the top shooting guards in the country:


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Class rankings analysis: Nov. 6 

November, 6, 2013
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We are one week away from the national signing period for men’s basketball. Seven of the top 17 recruits in the country are still on the board. Here's the latest on some schools rising and falling in the ESPN class rankings:


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#AskCoachB: Gophers' chances

October, 30, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The Gophers are working hard on two of the three. Reid Travis (Minneapolis, Minn./De La Salle) just made an official visit, has been there unofficially several times and practically lives next door to the school. With Duke, Gonzaga, Minnesota and Stanford in the mix, Travis has finished his visits and will announce a decision on Nov. 8. Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, Minn./Findlay College Prep) is in the process of trying to set up his official visit as he has been there many times for unofficial visits. Minnesota is out with Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) as he is down to Duke, Kansas and Baylor.

Each situation is independent of the other, but the Gophers have a real shot with Travis and Vaughn. Don't forget Richard Pitino just got the job in April and when he was the head coach at FIU, other coaches and programs were making inroads with both of these guys. He has been playing catch-up on the recruiting trail and now is preparing his team for the season with a brand new staff.

If the Gophers don't land either, it won't be for a lack of effort. It will be because of a lack of time as Pitino and his staff are putting on the full court press.

Class rankings analysis: Oct. 30 

October, 30, 2013
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As we come down to the wire for basketball's early signing period in November, many of the best players in the nation have finished their visits and are ready to make their decisions. Here’s a look at how some of the recruiting classes are shaping up as we get closer to the signing period:

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#AskCoachB: Latest on Rashad Vaughn

October, 29, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Rashad Vaughn could make a big difference right away based on his high-level scoring ability. Vaughn could be one of the best SGs when it comes to scoring the basketball in different ways from different spots on the floor. When his shot selection improves and he understands when to go and read a scoring opportunity versus when to give the ball up and move without the ball, he will become a far more efficient and impactful scorer.

Minnesota is in solid position, but face stiff competition. Vaughn, who will play his senior season at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, has official visits set up for Iowa State on Nov. 17 and UNLV on Nov. 25, while he is working on dates to see Kansas, UNC, Minnesota, Arizona and Baylor. Two of those would have to be unofficial because each student athlete is allowed only five official visits.

Possible domino effect for top four 

October, 18, 2013
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Jahlil Okafor, Tyus JonesESPN, Icon SMIThe decisions of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones -- who might be a tandem in college -- will have a likely ripple effect among other top prospects.
Many times in recruiting, one player's choices directly affects another. Players and coaches all have a plan when they start the recruiting process, but that plan can quickly change. Let's take a look at a few possible scenarios that could take place among the top four prospects in the ESPN 100. The only thing I base this on is my experience of a college coach and knowledge of how quickly things can change.

Let's have a little fun with these possible recruiting domino effects:

For Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones: I believe that Kansas and Duke are the major players here. Both are visiting Kansas this weekend and Duke next weekend, along with Justise Winslow, who will be on the trip to Durham only. Okafor and Jones could go to Kansas and Duke together. They also could play together at Baylor, another place they have already visited together. But that would be the biggest stretch of the three schools.

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USA developmental team camp recap 

October, 6, 2013
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The USA Basketball Developmental National Team minicamp featured some of the nation's best high school talent representing the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Head coach Don Showalter and his staff put the players through numerous intense and competitive drills, controlled scrimmages and game situations in this four-workout, two-day minicamp.

Note: ESPN 100 No. 1 overall player Jahlil Okafor didn't play on Day 1 after rolling his ankle during a one-on-one in the post drill.

Here are a few players who were impressive this weekend from the ESPN 100, 60 and 25 rankings.

ESPN 100 Standouts

Best Motor
Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity)
C, 6-foot-11, 225 pounds
Considering: Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma State

Turner's talent and shot blocking is well-documented, but his consistent motor also makes the big fella special. Regardless of the outcome of the possession, Turner never stops playing. He runs, jumps and competes at a high level, which makes him stand out.


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Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
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Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.


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When we first spotted him in the spring, ESPN 100 Riley LaChance's offers were from all mid-major programs. By way of strong performances with his Ray Allen select AAU team in the summer, LaChance's recruiting has skyrocketed to all of the power-six conferences. LaChance has taken official visits to Vanderbilt, and Creighton and plans to visit Baylor, Iowa and Minnesota soon.

Let’s break down his game and see what he does best and where he still needs to improve.

Athletic ability


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ESPN 100 PF White picks Georgetown 

September, 15, 2013
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ESPN 100 power forward Paul White (Chicago/Whitney Young) ended his recruitment on Sunday, committing to Georgetown while on an official visit. He picked the Hoyas over finalist Miami (Fla.), where he visited last weekend, along with Arizona, Connecticut, Minnesota and hometown DePaul.

The four-star White is a great get for Georgetown coach John Thompson III. A talented and skilled forward ranked No. 57 overall, he fits the Hoyas' style on both ends of the floor.

Why did he pick Georgetown and what will he bring to the Hoyas? Let's break it down.


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Notebook: Big weekend in Aggieland 

September, 13, 2013
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Who’s that guy headed to Xavier? Buffalo? They landed a top-100 player? Plus who’s spending the weekend in College Station? All this and more as we empty the notebook.

Hanging with Johnny Football

[+] EnlargeJustise Winslow
Chris Williams/Icon SMIESPN 100 wing Justise Winslow is looking to visit Texas A&M this weekend and Florida next weekend.
The biggest football extravaganza this weekend takes us to College Station, Texas, where Johnny Football faces the best professional college team in the country, Alabama. Can you imagine how many recruits requested a campus visit that weekend?

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#AskCoachB: Minnesota recruiting

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

 

The Gophers have ton of offers on the table, and that's the norm when you have a new head coach. When Richard Pitino was hired in April, there there was not a lot he could accomplish on the recruiting trail for the 2013 class. By that late in the recruiting calendar, many players were already committed and everyone he was trying to get involved with had other programs on them for a long time, so he was playing a major catchup game. Fast forward to the present and as the school year begins, Pitino and his staff have been relentless in evaluating and offering players in the 2014 class. This will be their first full recruiting class, and it will make an impact on the program.

There are several signees who would constitute a win. ESPN 100 power forward Reid Travis lives extremely close to campus, had a fantastic summer and could be the face of the program. Fellow Minnesota native and No. 1 shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, who recently took an unofficial visit to campus before heading out to play his senior season at Findlay Prep (Nev.) would be a go-to guy immediately. They are also making headway on ESPN 100 prospect Isaiah Whitehead, a dynamic scoring guard form New York. Lourawls Nairn and J.P. Macura have also been to campus and have a high interest.

A loss would be if they they strike out early with the guys on their list and then panic and take a player who can't help just to be on the board. Minnesota needs to have a plan, stick to it, and bring in the talent and traits that are needed to move into the upper crust in the Big Ten. Pitino was a terrific recruiter as an assistant coach and brought in some league-winning talent at Florida International. It will happen in time for Gophers fans.

Starting 5: Point guard debate 

August, 20, 2013
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Editor's note: Every week in "Starting 5," we'll roll out five stories, themes and nuggets from the basketball recruiting world to set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.

This week we look at three point guards using different lenses, what plans KU has for Late Night in the Phog, the recruiting revivals at UConn and Minnesota plus reduced lists from bigs Paul White and Makinde London.


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ESPN 100 SG Rashad Vaughn names 11

July, 31, 2013
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Shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, Minn./Findlay Prep) has narrowed his school list down to 11, according to a tweet from the ESPN 100 prospect.

Vaughn will decide among Baylor, Iowa State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas, UNLV, Arizona, Georgetown, UCLA and Minnesota.

The senior is currently ranked No. 11 overall in the 2014 class.

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