Pitino Misses on ANOTHER Local Star but Rebounds with ANOTHER Dynamite Transfer

Photo: Maria Lysaker

After a drawn-out and drama-filled recruitment, local Hopkins star Kerwin Walton committed to the University of North Carolina this weekend. Though his leaving surprises nobody, staying home and playing for the maroon and gold really did seem like a legitimate option until the very end. Had his dad not omitted the Gophers from a final list a few weeks ago, when he spoke with 247Sports.com (Kerwin announced his own list, that included the Gophers, the next day), you might have convinced me he’d dawn a Gophers jersey next season.

Minnesota had 5 high school seniors this year, that 247 Sports ranked as 4-star recruits (or better), and Richard landed 0 of them. He’s now 0 for his last 8, after going 0 for 3 in that same category, for 2019. In 2018. he landed Oturu, Kalscheur and Omersa.

While Richard Pitino may be one of the worst in-state recruiters in the country, his transfer market game is one of the best and this spring cycle has been his best. That’s why I wrote about how a rule change for NCAA transfers would benefit him more than others.

Pitino started his spring by locking down Liam Robbins of Drake, who many experts had as the best transfer to hit the market all offseason. He isn’t currently eligible to play next year, but between waivers for COVID-19 and rules changing, I expect most (if not all) transfers to be eligible for next year one way or another.

Liam Robbins is only one of three transfers to join the Gophers this Spring. Pitino has also added Brandon Johnson, a 6-8 big man from Western Michigan. Both of those guys could contribute in big ways next season, especially with Oturu leaving and Eric Curry’s status still uncertain, given his injury history.

It was clear that Pitino had a backup plan ready to roll when Walton committed to North Carolina. It was Drew Peterson, who played his Sophomore season last year at Rice. If you’re still in the dumps over Kerwin’s departure, Peterson’s highlight tape will make you feel better.

He’s a 6-8 wing who looks smooth with his handles, his shot, and just ultra-confident in his game, as a whole. I love his shiftiness for his size, and quick first step. If he can put some weight on, and Pitino can carral him in a more-structured system, the sky is the limit.

On the season, Peterson averaged a rangy boxscore that really got me excited. If he can bring anything close to 11 PTS, 6 REB and 3 AST while playing in the Big Ten, he’d be a huge addition. I think he can, too.

Watching back his film, I feel like the unstructured isolation-style offense that Rice plays, hindered Drew’s game. Once dropped in Pitino’s system, where he will be forced to take better shots and play more controlled, he seems like someone who’s analytics will improve, especially his shooting percentages and turnovers.

Like Liam Robbins, Peterson isn’t eligible to play currently. He would have to sit a year, due to current transfer rules. Also like Liam Robbins, however, I don’t expect that to be a problem. Pitino must be banking on that too because he’s in big trouble without those two eligible for 2020.

He would go from a team that finally has legitimate depth at all positions… back to a talented group front line group that will prove to lack the depth necessary to win consistently in the Big Ten.

With all of this talk about transfers, though. Let’s not forget about the biggest newcomer for Richard Pitino… and that’s (PG) Jamal Mashburn Jr, who will backup Marcus Carr for a year (as long as he doesn’t go pro) before being handed the keys, full-time.

You should be very excited about Mashburn Jr.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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