Pitino: New facilities will help keep in-state recruits home


Minnesotans have heard it before and they'll hear it again, but Richard Pitino is latest head coach to say it's time to close the borders in a fight for in-state basketball recruits.

Last year, Minnesota saw the four best players in the state pack their bags and leave for outside schools.

Pitino said watching Jones excel in the Final Four was national proof that Minnesota produces elite-level basketball talent, and he believes some of that talent will be more likely to choose the Gophers once the University has better practice facilities.

"It doesn't make me excited when they're doing it for other teams," Pitino told Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press. "There is good talent (in Minnesota). We certainly need to put up a fence around the borders, but I think one of the keys, and I don't talk about facilities a whole lot, but when we build the practice facility and upgrade everything, it makes a bigger impact locally than nationally. Guys locally will see we're committed to it, and that's very, very important."

U of M Athletics Director Norwood Teague, in early March, said fundraising for a new Athletic Village is progressing well. Read more and view updated images here.

According to ESPN (Insider only), Pitino's 2015 recruiting class is ranked 36th in the country. It's highlighted by three 4-star recruits, including ESPN's third-best recruit in Minnesota, DeLaSalle's Jarvis Johnson.

ESPN lists former Grand Rapids forward Alex Illikainen as Minnesota's top recruit for the Class of 2015. Illikainen, a Wisconsin Badger recruit, just won the National Prep Championship at Brewster Academy. The No. 2 recruit is DeLaSalle's Sacar Anim, a Marquette recruit.

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