Gopher recruiting classes compared to Minnesota prep stars who left

Diving into the last three years of recruiting Minnesota basketball players.
Publish date:

Minnesota has become a recruiting hotbed in basketball, but few have stayed home and played for their home-state Gophers, instead opting to raise their national profiles elsewhere. 

While coach Richard Pitino and his staff at the University of Minnesota hit a home run with the 2018 recruiting class that featured Daniel Oturu, Gabe Kalscheur, Jarvis Omersa and transfer Marcus Carr, this season's struggles to consistently win in a loaded Big Ten has put a spotlight on the in-state recruits that haven't stayed home in recent years, namely the 2017 and 2019 recruiting classes. 

Last year, none of the top-seven in-state recruits stayed home. That class was headlined by 5-star Matthew Hurt going to Duke, 4-star guard Tyrell Terry going to Stanford and 4-star forward Zeke Nnaji choosing Arizona. 

Hurt has been a primary starter at Duke, where he plays alongside 2018 Minnesota Mr. Basketball Tre Jones. Terry and Nnaji are two of the best freshmen in the country, both starring in the Pac 12. 

Then there's the leader of the Pac 12, Colorado, who is paced on a nightly basis by 2017 Minnesota Mr. Basketball winner McKinley Wright IV. The 2017 senior class in Minnesota completely avoided the Gophers as none of the top-eight recruits, per 247Sports, stayed home. 

Throw in Freddie Gillespie, a 2015 East Ridge graduate, having an outstanding senior season (9.6 points, 8.8 rebounds per game) for No. 1-ranked Baylor and it truly is a who's who of former Minnesota prep stars shining in college, the majority of them not at the U of M. 

So how do the Gophers' last three recruiting classes compare to the Minnesota kids who left?

Impact players from Minnesota's 2017 senior class:

  • Jericho Sims: 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds for Texas.
  • Nate Reuvers: 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds for Wisconsin.
  • Race Thompson: key bench player for Indiana (had 10 points, 9 rebounds against MN).
  • Brad Davison: 9.4 points per game as Wisconsin's starting point guard. 
  • Theo John: 5.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2 blocks per game as Marquette starter.
  • McKinley Wright: 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists for Colorado. 
  • Ishmael El-Amin: 14.0 points per game for Ball State. 

While that group is starring elsewhere, Minnesota's 2017 recruiting class featured guard Isaiah Washington and Jamir Harris, both of whom transferred and provided little impact. 

Impact players from Minnesota's 2018 senior class:

  • Tre Jones: 15.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists as Duke starter. 
  • Daniel Oturu: 19.6 points, 11.4 rebounds as Gophers starter. 
  • Gabe Kalscheur: 11.4 points as Gophers starter. 
  • Jarvis Omersa: key bench player for the Gophers. 

Clearly, this was an outstanding recruiting class for the Gophers, which doesn't include current star guard Marcus Carr transferring to Minnesota from Pittsburgh. Carr had to sit out the 2018-19 season but has now become the Gophers' second-best player behind Oturu. 

Had Carr been eligible last season, that Gopher team might've gone on a legitimately deep run in the NCAA tournament behind 2016 Minnesota Mr. Basketball winner Amir Coffey and the program's all-time leading rebounder Jordan Murphy. If that were the case, perhaps Richard Pitino's job status wouldn't be under the microscope like it is now. 

Impact players from Minnesota's 2019 senior class: 

  • Matthew Hurt: 10.3 points (41.1% three-point shooter) as Duke starter.
  • Zeke Nnaji: 16.4 points, 8.8 rebounds as Arizona starter. 
  • Tyrell Terry: 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists as Stanford starter. 

The Gophers' 2019 recruiting class has shown promise with 4-star Isaiah Ihnen getting more minutes of late and shooting guard Tre Williams flashing potential, but their impacts aren't on the same level as Hurt, Nnaji and Terry. 

Will 2020 be a in-state swing-and-miss for the Gophers?

The 2020 Minnesota high school senior class features four players ranked in the top 90 of 247Sports' national rankings, but none of them are committed to Minnesota. Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy) is Gonzaga-bound; Dawson Garcia (Prior Lake) is going to Marquette; Dain Dainja (Park Center) is headed to Baylor; Ben Carlson (East Ridge) will cross the border for Wisconsin.

Then there's Steven Crowl, a 4-star recruit from Eastview who will also become a Badger.

And don't forget about the Madsen brothers, Gabe and Mason, from Rochester Mayo, who are both committed to the University of Cincinnati.

Seven highly recruited in-state players who are all leaving Minnesota.

That leaves Hopkins guard Kerwin Walton, a 4-star recruit, as the lone in-state hope for the Gophers' 2020 recruiting class. Competition for the 6-foot-5 Walton is stiff, as Minnesota is trying to convince him to stay home while blue bloods like North Carolina and Arizona want him. 

So far, Minnesota has received commitments from 4-star guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. (Florida) and 3-star power forward Martice Mitchell (Illinois). They also have 4-star forward Treyton Thompson, formerly of Alexandria High School in west-central Minnesota, committed to the 2021 recruiting class. 

Next Up

montana cutbank

Charges: Man shot victim 'without provocation' using sawed-off shotgun

The incident happened on Nov. 24 in Ten Lake Township, located in Beltrami County.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Walz, first responders address Minnesotans

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Lindsay Whalen

Whalen's Gophers start season with only 7 players available

Whalen isn't happy that a transfer wasn't granted immediate eligibility to play.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.21.08 AM

Baby steals the show in Minnesota family's viral TikTok video

Definitely busting out that wobbly baby move at the next party...


Matthew Hurt

Hurt chooses Duke, Gophers don't land any of top-7 MN recruits

It's the second time in three years that none of the top recruits stayed home.

Will Matthew Hurt be the 5-star recruit that picks the Gophers?

Hurt started every game and won gold with Team USA at the FIBAs.

Isaiah Ihnen

Gophers land 4-star German recruit over Tennessee, Texas

He's considered one of the top 100 recruits in the Class of 2019.

5-star recruit Matthew Hurt to announce decision April 19

The super recruit from Rochester is one of the top players in the country.

Marcus Carr

What the Gophers' starting 5 could look like next season

It's very possible that Minnesota's lineup features three new starters.

Payton Willis and Marcus Carr

The good and bad from the Gophers' season-opening blowout

Minnesota crushed Cleveland State by 35 points.


Big Ten tournament preview: Can the Gophers make a run?

Minnesota has struggled to close out games. Will that change in the conference tourney?