Top recruits see Gophers winPublished 11:18am Thursday, January 3, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS — Three of the country’s top high school basketball players, all from Minnesota, attended the Gophers’ victory over Michigan State 76-63 at a packed Williams Arena on Monday.
That included Tyus Jones, the junior point guard prodigy from Apple Valley. The 6-foot-1 Jones has long been sought by the Gophers, as well as by Michigan State and others — but he sat behind the University of Minnesota bench Monday.
“Keep him away from Izzo,” one Gophers employee was overheard joking before the game, nodding toward the other end of the court, where coach Tom Izzo and his Michigan State players would be stationed.
Gophers rooters hope Minnesota’s significantly improved play this season — the Gophers are 13-1 and ranked No. 9 — could sway Jones to choose the home-state school over the likes of Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State and Baylor, all of which remain on his final list.
If Jones was influenced by Minnesota’s impressive victory over Michigan State that had the Williams Arena throng rocking, he wouldn’t say after the game.
“It was good to see both teams out there, and I was pretty neutral throughout the game, and the Gophers played really well,” Jones, 16, said. “It’s definitely something you consider, but you still have to look at more than just who won the game.”
Jones said there still are no favorites among his finalists. His next recruiting visit will be an unofficial one, in two weeks to Kentucky.
Also at the Michigan State game was Robbinsdale Cooper shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, another junior the Gophers are earnestly seeking.
“I like how (the Gophers) play up and down the court,” the 6-6 Vaughn said, adding he still has no recruiting preference and hasn’t decided on official visits. Kentucky coach John Calipari has great interest in Vaughn.
Reid Travis , a 6-7, 225-pound power forward who also plays quarterback at DeLaSalle, also attended the game. He said he’s undecided between football and basketball in college.
Before Monday afternoon’s game against Michigan State, the Spartans offered junior Travis a basketball tender.
Travis, who is being recruited by the Gophers, said he’s also considering Harvard (he has a 3.9 grade-point average) and Iowa State (coached by former Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg ).
Scouting the Gophers-Michigan State game was Timberwolves director of basketball operations Rob Babcock .
Former Gophers QB-receiver MarQueis Gray has accepted an invitation to the NFL scouting combine Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis as well as the Texas vs The Nation all-star game Feb. 2 in Allen, Texas.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Gray will be represented professionally by Tony Johnson , who coached DeLaSalle to a Minnesota high school football championship in 1999 and now is an agent working out of Evanston, Ill. Johnson is a partner with K Sports and Entertainment, which also represents former NFL QB Doug Flutie . Gray is projected as a run-and-catch tight end in the pros.
Wild prospects: Matt Dumba has 45 penalty minutes in 37 games for Red Deer; Erik Haula has 26 points in 19 games for the Gophers; Louis Nanne has 26 points in 29 games for Penticton.
Lindsay Whalen of the Lynx on Wednesday scored nine points with seven rebounds and a game-high six assists to lead her Galatasaray team to a 73-69 victory in the Turkish Cup playoffs.
Meanwhile, Lynx teammate Maya Moore leads the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association in votes for the Jan. 12 all-star game in Nanchang. Moore leads the league with a 40.4-points per game average for her Shanxi Flame team (15-5).
The Gophers men’s and women’s hockey teams are ranked No. 1 nationally, wrestling is No. 3, men’s basketball No. 9, men’s swimming and diving No. 11 and women’s swimming and diving No. 14. The volleyball team was ranked No. 8 at season’s end.
The University of St. Thomas baseball team is No. 2 nationally in the preseason rankings by Collegiate Baseball News, and the Tommies have or had four other sports — volleyball (No. 1), football (No. 2), men’s basketball (No. 4) and women’s basketball (No. 4) — ranked among the top five nationally.