Things I'm thinking about while wondering why Don Mattingly would bring Clayton Kershaw out on 3-day rest for the first time in his career in a non-elimination game when he threw 124 pitches the last time out:
- Reid Travis, the stud PF from De La Salle, has decided to give the Gophers an Official visit. Although this may not seem like a big deal since he's probably been on campus and talked to Pitino like a billion times, it validates his interest as more than a courtesy, at least in my opinion. Travis had narrowed his list to Minnesota, Stanford, Duke, and Gonzaga, and after having visited or scheduling visits to the other three schools giving Minnesota a visit makes me think he's not just keeping the Gophers on the list as a courtesy to the local school as I suspect Tyus Jones is doing.
Travis has always made it pretty clear he is looking for both a great basketball experience as well as a big time education which practically makes Stanford and Duke the automatic leaders, but there's some intel out there which indicates he's a bit put off by not being the Blue Devils' number 1 choice at power forward. There's also some intel that he may be strongly favoring Gonzaga. Of course, there's also some intel (which I was able to gather myself) that since the Pitino hiring Travis has gone from "not really interested" in the U to "definitely seriously interested" in the U, and this helps validate that. Plus there's this quote, “Just a hometown feel, being able to have my family come to every game,
stuff like that,” Travis said of the appeal of Minnesota. “It would be nice to have that and just be able to represent Minnesota. That definitely plays into it. I kind of play with a chip on my shoulder and I like to represent my state.”
I tend to think this recruitment is pretty wide open, and with Duke and Stanford both looking at other stud PFs it would be great if they could secure a couple commitments before Travis's decision day, whenever that may be. I also wouldn't count on the Zags, seeing as how a couple of recruiting "experts" consider them a major player here. It's still an uphill battle for the Gophers to land him, but things have just gone from "blind optimism" to "hopeful." It might sound like a minor distinction, but it's not. Keep your fingers crossed, and pay attention to the names Kevin Looney (Duke) and Michael Humphrey (Stanford) - their decisions could make all the difference.
- Carlos Morris, the Juco wing from Florida, visited last weekend and by all accounts had an excellent time - in fact, his profile picture on his Twitter account is him wearing a Gopher hat so you'd probably think the Gophers are in good shape if they want him. His other two finalists are Seton Hall and UAB, and given the glut of guards the Pirates (that's Seton Hall, dummy) have already signed this year you'd have to think it's down to the Gophers and UAB (who he's visiting coming up here soon).
Morris is ranked as the #4 JuCo player in the country, and although JuCo's can range from the awesome (Bobby Jackson, Vincent Grier) to the horrible (Devron Bostick although I don't think Tubby used him properly, Kerwin Fleming) he sounds like a pretty good player - a nice 6-5 wing with the ability to both score off the ball and create with it, and the top thing I've read is he is already an excellent defensive player. The only real concern is the whole JuCo thing and that if they sign him and the next guy I'm about to talk about that probably puts them out of the Rashad Vaughn sweepstakes, but I suppose we'll count those chickens when we get to the bridge.
- Nate Mason, a top 150 type point guard from Georgia, is yet another recruit to put the Gophers in his Final Three. He has already visited his other two finalists, Kansas State and Virginia, and will be checking out the Gophers Officially this coming weekend. He's probably more of a combo guard now, but has the skills to transform into a pure point with a good jump shot and good ball skills, not to mention his lack of size may help push him in that direction in college anyway.
Mason wasn't on the Gophers' radar when they were after Ja'Quan Newton, Josh Perkins, and their ilk, but after getting spurned by everyone they turned to Mason and with him putting them in his Final Three and taking an official to Minneapolis, it looks like the feeling is mutual. Just as Michigan State dropped in late to steal Lourawls Nairn from the Gophers, they're kind of late to party here but may be ripping him away from schools that have been involved longer. I say good - what's good for the goose is also good for the gambler.
- Lastly, PF Bonzie Colson signed with Notre Dame. Colson seemed to have some level of interest in the Gophers, and they him, but I'm pretty sure the Josh Martin signing killed that on both sides. Which is fine.
By the way, I took the Falcons in our survivor league. Currently down 17-7. Pray for me.