After Tray Jackson Commitment, 2019 Class Could Make Pitino a Minnesota Legend

LONG BEACH, CA – July 30, 2016: Adidas Nations in Long Beach, California (Photo by Kelly Kline/adidas)

LONG BEACH, CA – July 30, 2016: Adidas Nations in Long Beach, California (Photo by Kelly Kline/adidas)



In case your head is emerging from the sand it’s sat in since the weekend, Richard Pitino and the Gopher basketball team took a huge first step in an extremely important 2019 class on Monday:

Tray Jackson is a great get but, if all goes well, he will only be the beginning of a class that could someday land Richard Pitino a statue in the middle of campus and maybe a street or two named after him as well. According to 247Sports, the Gophers currently have 9 players under scholarship for 2019 with Tray. A maximum of 13 scholarship players can be rostered on a NCAA D1 Basketball team. In case math is difficult for you, that means Richard has 4 scholarships remaining for that class, if he chooses to fill them all.

Look, Pitino has already established himself as the best Gopher basketball recruiter of the internet age (just like his bestie over at TCF Bank Stadium). Tubby Smith had some good gets back in his day too, but they never panned out. Is that due to overrated recruits or a lack of coaching ability once they got here? Who knows. I don’t really care. The past is the past. The Gopher future looks bright.

 

For now, let’s focus on who Richard is pursuing for 2019.

As you can see above, Tray Jackson is already in the top-8 of highest-rated recruits to commit to Minnesota since the internet age, at 247Sports. But, Pitino still has his eyes on plenty of talent that remains available. The two biggest ones are Minnesota kids:

Matthew Hurt is the pride of Minnesota High School basketball right now. He’s being courted HARD by all of the blue bloods like Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, etc, etc, etc… You name them, if Matthew has shown any interest, he’s gotten an offer. At this point, the Gophers seem like an underdog but do not underestimate the fact that his brother Michael already plays on the team, and will be a senior when Matthew is a freshman. Both have talked about how special it would be to play together again like they got to for a year at John Marshall in Rochester, MN.

No matter who lands Hurt, he’s likely to only be on campus for one season. He’s already proclaimed himself a “one-and-done” college basketball player.

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Zeke Nnaji has climbed up the recruiting rankings over the last few months but is now seen as one of the better players out there, receiving scholarship offers from a lot of the big schools that Matthew has. If Pitino can find a way to land Matthew Hurt and Zeke Nnaji….. wow. Yes, the Gophers would immediately become a National Title contender.

To land Hurt, Pitino’s 2018 squad needs to play well early.

We need to hope Matthew sees a successful 2019 on the horizon, where he can play with Michael, and have a chance to become the biggest legend in Minnesota basketball since Bobby Jackson. Obviously, Matthew knows all of this. The question remains, however; is that something he wants? If so, is it worth turning down all of the blue-bloods to stay home and be that mythical figure? We’ll see.

Even if Hurt and Nnaji don’t stay home, Pitino and his staff are currently “warm” (according to 247Sports) with some out-of-state 4-star prospects. Landing 2-3 of them to round out the class would make this by-far the best class to arrive on campus….ever, even without Hurt.

Also, keep your eyes out for one more Minnesota-native. David Roddy isn’t getting the run that some of his Minnesota counterparts are, but he is much more than the 3-star you see on most sites currently. He has waivered on whether he will play basketball or football, where he also holds multiple D1 offers. Roddy had a really good EYBL Circuit this summer for Howard Pulley.

 

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Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan