Friday, September 12, 2014

Welcome Aboard Jarvis Johnson!

As I clairvoyantly stated in my welcome Jonathan Nwankwo post, the Gopher hoop team having just one open scholarship (in theory) for 2015 racheted up the pressure on at least one of the Minnesota boys with Jarvis Johnson committing to the Gophers today in a ceremony at De La Salle that went significantly better than the last one.

Johnson, the fourth Pitino commit for 2015, has fallen out of a favor a bit with the recruiting services post AAU season, dropping out of ESPN's top 100 and Rivals Top 150, but still ranks as the 103rd best player by 247 (17th point guard) and 168th by their industry composite number (28th PG).  Johnson is a terrific fit in Pitino's offense as a super athletic point guard who excels at getting to the rim and should be, at worst, an average defender right from the get go with significant potential to excel in that department.  He also brings the ability to get teammates involved and is the closest thing to a pure point guard who looks to be on the roster in 2015 and between Johnson, Nate Mason, and Kevin Dorsey they'll have three guys who can run an offense and handle the ball, and that doesn't address the depth when you add Daquein McNeil, Carlos Morris, Dupree McBrayer, and Zach Lofton on the wing.   Sounds pretty good.

Being a Minnesota kid, Johnson has been a target of both the fan base and the school for quite sometime, and as much as I detest the "we must have all Minnesota kids" mentality it is nice to see one, and a highly ranked one at that, actually want to play for the Gophers.  It also brings up some big ole questions about the other Minnesota kid.  I find it hard to believe the Gophers would just stop recruiting Alex Illikainen, especially if he's given them indication that he's at least considering committing (all indications are the Gophers are still on the list and I think they flew out to his prep school to visit him this week), however at this point the Gophers don't have a spot for him if everything works out with Gaston Diedhiou.  The good news is that this is big-time (relatively) college basketball, and these things have a way of working out in favor of talent.  If Illikainen decides he wants to be a Gopher, he will be, one way or another.

If not, the Gophers still have a hell of a class that ranks somewhere in the low 20s nationally.  That'll slide down some as more top kids start signing, but it should end up in the top 50 at worst and that's a major step in the right direction.  Not to mention that the Gophers are now in a situation where their roster is full in the fall period and they may have to turn down a talented kid who wants to play here (they won't, but just having that conversation says a lot) rather than staring at open roster spots in the Spring and begging anyone with a pulse to come to Minnesota.  That's pretty awesome.

I may have some minor concerns about shooting considering all four signees for 2015 have some questions about that part of their game, but it's obvious what kind of team Pitino is trying to build and all four fit the bill.  And with Jarvis Johnson on board he has his Russ Smith.

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