November 21, 2007

The Future of Gopher Basketball

I'm on record as thinking the current season is going to be successful. BUT things are looking great for the future of the program. Tubby has landed a great class that will be on campus by next fall.

JUCO Transfers

SF - Devron Bostick - will come to the program as a junior. Last season Bostick was 2nd team All-American at the JUCO level. Back in the day in Racine, Wisconsin Bostick averaged 17 ppg and 6.4 rpg on an undefeated team. Bostick is a slasher and should come in immediately and help pick up the scoring that will be gone with the graduation of McKenzie, Tollackson and Coleman. The downside is that he'll come in and really be a stop-gap guy. His first season as a gopher will likely be a struggle with such a youthful team. His senior season might be more successful but he also might see limited min as we HOPE to have another outstanding recruiting class (you reading this Rodney and Royce?).

F - Paul Carter - I've read that the incoming sophomore has NBA talent. Currently he is having an outstanding season at the JUCO level. His first game of the year was a 28 point, 14 rebound performance on his way to winning the MVP of the season opening tourney. I expect that Carter will be an immediate starter but probably at the SF. This week Carter's team was in Minnesota for a couple games. While Gopher Nation was eager to land some help in the frontcourt it appears that Carter is more of the SF ilk than PF.

Incoming Freshmen

PG/SG - Devoe Joseph - At the last hour Joseph signed with Minnesota over Texas, Vanderbilt and along the way held off schools like Kansas and Illinois. Joseph is one of the top shooters in the 2008 recruit class and will likely have an immediate impact on the gophers. He wants to get a lot of work at the PG spot, where he'd be more suited in the NBA. But he also seems to be perfectly suited as a SG at the college level. So expect him to get plenty of minutes right away playing both positions.

As far as talent goes I think that Joseph is the best player in this class. But I am concerned a little bit about him. Throughout the recruiting process he has been very persnickity and high maintenance. A significant reason he is coming to Minnesota was that he'd get more exposure here. "“If he would have gone to Kansas or Texas, he would have been just another player,” said his Canadian AAU coach, Ro Russell. “Here, he’ll get more recognition.”

AREA of CONCERN? - I'm concerned that if this all doesn't turn into the "DJo Show" then he'll get disgruntled and his numbers will be secondary to winning.

PF - Colten Iverson - the 6'9" Iverson is going to be your reliable, hard working kid who will rebound and give a little scoring help. I was able to get him to answer a few questions for me a few weeks back. Iverson flirted with Florida a little bit then chose Minnesota over Nebraska.

From what I have read I would expect that Iverson will be a very good rebounder, a decent low block scorer and will work hard to be a great defensive post for Tubby. Every recruiting service raves about his rebounding. He has decent scoring moves in the post but I don't anticipate that he'll have more than 1 or 2 reliable moves that will work at the B10 level. He is agile and works hard so I expect he'll better over his full 4 years here.

AREA of CONCERN? - not a great offensive threat, but this doesn't concern me too much if he contributes as a rebounder and defender.

C - Ralph Sampson III - 6'10" son of Ralph Sampson the great college and NBA player. Tubby has been after Sampson for months, long before anyone else was after him. Eventually Minnesota won out over Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Maryland. Sampson did not have a great junior season but improved a ton and had a great summer. He is a lanky shot blocker with a good scoring touch. He may struggle against more physical posts in the B10 but I think he'll come in as an immediate contributor.

Let the speculation begin as to who will start next year at C, Williams or Sampson? My money is on Sampson as Williams has no business starting in the Big Ten.

AREA of CONCERN? - he is lacking in girth. Sampson may not be a great rebounder or 1-on-1 defender. I think he will have great touch around the rim, will run the floor well and will block a lot of shots as a helpside defender.


This is the best class Minnesota has seen since the Bobby Jackson, Quincy Lewis, Courtney James, Charles Thomas and Miles Tarver class that was instrumental to the Final Four run that never actually happened. It isn't at that level but it is very good for a number of reasons...

1 - They'll be here for a full career. The JUCO kids could have immediate impact, Joseph and Sampson could potentially play ball after their careers here at the U, but nobody is going to be leaving early from this group. When the current freshmen are seniors you should have a solid group of experienced players hat will hopefully compliment some younger studs. Having an experienced team is rare at the college level these days and with the right mix could be a dangerous tournament team.

2 - There are good complimentary players here. A scoring guard who can play both guard positions, a hard working PF who will rebound with tenacity, a C who will block shots and can score within 15 feet, a long SF/PF who will have position versatility and a SF slasher who hopefully can come in and start scoring from day 1. It looks you have some leaders here who will work hard and set the right tone for the next recruiting classes.

3 - It sets a tone. This is a consensus top 20 (pushing top 10) recruiting class. Tubby Smith came in and gave Minnesota instant credibility to land some very talented kids. No longer do in state kids have to look elsewhere for a top notch program. This year's high school junior class, within Minnesota has 2 kids who are consensus top 50 in the country. Now they know there is talent in front of them and opportunities to come into a program primed to win and win for 4 years.

There is 1 scholarship still available for next year but my money is on it being saved for next year. Where I expect we will land 3 outstanding players.

1 - Royce White
2 - Rodney Williams
3 - a top rated (4-star or better) PG or SG to compliment Joseph

I couldn't be more excited for the future of gopher basketball. I don't expect greatness in the 2007-08 season but it will be a lot of fun to watch this group of three freshmen and Carter develop.

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