Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Welcome Aboard, Dre Mathieu

Now I have to worry about spelling his last name.  And the Gophers have two Dres to go along with their two Hollinses.  Sid is really going to have some issues keeping up this year now that the Gophers and Richard Pitino have signed JuCo PG Dre Mathieu.

Mathieu, the 5-9 (5-9!) point guard from Central Arizona College chose Minnesota over Ole Miss and Pepperdine who were also in his final three.  Although that might not sound like the greatest competition for his services, remember those were his final three that he had narrowed it down to.  He also held offers from UCLA, Memphis, and Washington State among others.  Mathieu isn't Tyus Jones or Rashad Vaughn, but he isn't Maverick Ahanmisi either - he's a pretty good pick-up this late in the recruiting season and a true point guard, FINALLY.

Getting a true point guard should do wonders for this team assuming Drizzy (his chosen nickname) is ready to go from day 1, and being a JuCo that should be the expectation (Andre Ingram excepted).  Dre Hollins should be able to spend more time at shooting guard where he's a more natural fit and this should make it so Maverick never ever ever has to dribble the ball.  Hopefully Mav becomes the guy who comes in at about the 12 minute mark in the first half, gets a chance to shoot, and if he makes it he can keep playing and if he misses he's done for the game.  This would make the back court quite small if Dre2 are out there together and since Joe Coleman is a teeny tiny 3 when he's on the wing, but Austin Hollins is a bigger and a very good backcourt defender and newly signed Daquein McNeil is 6-3 and scouting reports say he has the potential to be a "lethal defender."  They'll be fine.

As far as Mathieu goes, from reading a few scouting reports and watching a few highlights he seems to be an incredibly explosive athlete (reported 45 inch vertical) who is lighting quick and can get in the lane.  His averaging 6.1 rebounds per game this season is a testament to his athletic ability given his height, and his 6.5 assists per game help confirm that he's truly a pass first kind of guy, which he even alluded to on Twitter.  He can certainly score as well, averaging 17 points per game on 52% shooting, however he's definitely more of a driver than a shooter, hitting just 29% from 3 and I read somewhere he acknowledges outside shooting as a weakness.  In highlights he's certainly not afraid to drive all the way to the rim and is a talented finisher, although it will be interesting to see how that works against Mitch McGary and Adreian Payne rather than whoever he played in the California Penal League or whatever.  Worst case and the jumper doesn't develop he should still be able to find success as a Lewis Jackson type.  I'm just excited to have a real point guard around.

As far as the team goes, they're certainly going to be perimeter oriented with both Hollinses, the two new guys, and Coleman all set.  With Eliason the only real proven big man (well, semi-proven) somebody out of the group of Mo Walker, Charles Buggs, and Oto is going to have to step up, and probably two of them.  The Gophers are still working on Rakeem Buckles and Tarik Black, although it's now sounding like Black is leaning towards Oregon.  With the news today that Pitino target Joseph Uchebo has signed with Pitt the big man cupboard is suddenly looking awfully bare (guard Allerik Freeman, another target of Pitino, signed with Baylor today as well).  That's not a complaint, because I'm very pleased with what Pitino's been doing so far, and after watching this team for the last few years I'm looking forward to a perimeter based squad getting up and down the court in a big ole hurry.  Plus, believe it or not, I still believe in both Buggs and Oto - I really think one of them is going to thrive in this new system as a stretch 4.  Maybe both.  Dare to dream and all that.

Here's Drizzy dunking in an incredibly high resolution video so you can see those hops in action:

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