Bakary Konate Commits to Minnesota; Darrick Wood to DePaul (UPDATED)

Photo via 247sports.com

Photo via 247sports.com

By JOHN PAVIA

Special to ZAGSBLOG

Sunrise Christian Prep center Bakary Konate committed to the University of Minnesota on Wednesday to become their fifth commitment to play under coach Richard Pitino next season.

Konate’s Sunrise Christian Prep coach, Luke Barnwell, offered his take to SNY.tv on what Konate will bring to the Golden Gophers next season.

“He’s a legit 6-11 guy,” he said. “He’s very long, a defensive presence at the rim and a pretty good shot blocker. He moves pretty well and gets up and down the floor. He’s fairly skilled and can make perimeter shots for a big guy. He will be a defensive presence right away at Minnesota, but offensively, he may need to develop a little bit more.” To read more of this story, click here

NIT Final Pits Former Knicks Coach (Brown) Against Son of Former Knicks Coach (Pitino)

LarryBrownSMUNEW YORK — Thursday’s NIT championship game will pit one former Knicks coach against the son of another former Knicks coach.

Larry Brown vs. Richard Pitino on the Madison Square Garden floor.

And Rick Pitino will be sitting behind his son’s bench when Minnesota (24-13) faces SMU (27-9) at 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

“I know they got the Knick dressing room, so what does that tell you?” Brown joked Wednesday on a conference call.

Brown coached the Knicks for one ill-fated season in 2005-6, while the elder Pitino led the Knicks from 1987-89. To read more of this story, click here

Josh Martin to Minnesota

Josh Martin is headed to the Big Ten.

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward out of Bothell (WA) committed to Minnesota on Monday, choosing the Gophers over Pitt and Florida State.

“Officially committing I the university of Minnesota,” he Tweeted.

He visited Minnesota two weeks ago.

“It was an easy decision in my mind,” Martin told the Star Tribune. “It was actually not as hard as most people think. It was hard to evaluate and whatnot, but when I was down there, everything just clicked. To read more of this story, click here

Richard Pitino Pumps Brakes on Potential Louisville-Minnesota Matchup

BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. — Richard Pitino wants to pump the brakes on his dad’s suggestion that Louisville and Minnesota should meet in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

“He’s going to have to be an executive at ESPN to decide,” the Minnesota coach told SNY.tv of his father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, during a recent recruiting trip to Blair Academy.

“I think he just won the national championship but he doesn’t make those decisions. ESPN does.”

Speaking at his recent Hall of Fame induction, Rick Pitino said he’d like to see the matchup happen. To read more of this story, click here

Stakes Are Huge as Pitino, Minnesota Go All Out for ‘Big 3′

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Everywhere Minnesota’s “Big 3″ go this summer, Richard Pitino and his staff will be there.

The Minnesota coach knows that if he can land some combination of Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashad Vaughn, it will not only be seen as a huge recruiting victory going forward, but it will also translate into winning basketball games on the court in the Big Ten Conference.

And that, after all, is what it’s all about.

So there Pitino was this past weekend, dutifully sitting in the stands watching Jones, Travis and Vaughn compete in the Nike Global Challenge at Trinity Washington University. To read more of this story, click here

Minnesota Making Major Recruiting Inroads

PHILADELPHIA — One year ago, top basketball recruits in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia corridor weren’t talking about Minnesota as a possible destination.

Not even a little bit.

Now, it’s hard to find a top recruit in this area who isn’t mentioning Minnesota and new coach Richard Pitino among the schools working the hardest for their services.

“He came at me with a great recruitment,” 2014 Brooklyn Lincoln guard Isaiah Whitehead said of Pitino Sunday at the Mary Kline Classic. To read more of this story, click here

Naadir Tharpe Waiting to Cut List

After a long July on the recruiting circuit with the New England Playaz, Naadir Tharpe has a list of schools in mind but plans to wait until he gets back to Brewster (N.H.) Academy to cut his list.

“I don’t have any top schools,” Tharpe, who previously decommitted from Providence, said Monday morning. “I’m basically looking at everybody until I get back to school and talk to my coach [Jason Smith] about what schools fit me the best.”

The 6-foot, 170-pound Tharpe listed St. John’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Iowa State, Marquette, Providence and Oklahoma. To read more of this story, click here

Carolina Latest School to Offer Tokoto

J.P. Tokoto had just returned from seeing “Karate Kid” with his friends late Tuesday night, when his phone rang at 12:01 a.m. Wisconsin time

“It was Coach [Roy] Williams,” Tokoto said by phone from the NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

The 6-foot-6 Tokoto had spoken to the North Carolina coach numerous times but this call was different. Tuesday marked the first day college coaches could call members of the Class of 2012.

“I was very excited,” Tokoto said. “It wasn’t my first time talking to him so at first I thought it was just another phonecall with coach Roy. I was not expecting at the end of the conversation to get an offer, which took me by surprise and left me speechless.” To read more of this story, click here

Cory Joseph Makes the Call

Back home in Toronto with his mother, Cory Joseph finally made a decision.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard out of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep chose Texas over UConn, Villanova, Minnesota and UNLV.

“Yeah, I did,” he said by phone from Toronto. “Coach [Rick] Barnes and the staff, we have a good relationship. The style of play, they go up and down. I really feel like it can excel my game to the next level there. It was the best fit for me.”

Joseph is the No. 3 point guard in the Class of 2010 and No. 7 overall player, according to Rivals.

Joseph averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in leading Findlay Prep to the second of back-to-back National High School Invitational titles.

In choosing Texas, Joseph will join Findlay teammate and fellow Canadian Tristan Thompson, a 6-9 forward who signed with the Longhorns in November. To read more of this story, click here

Cory Joseph Talks Recruiting


Check out this video interview with Findlay Prep senior point guard Cory Joseph, who plays Saturday night in the Jordan Brand Classic at MSG.

Joseph is considering UNLV, Minnesota, Texas, Villanova and UConn and said he plans to announce in either Las Vegas or his hometown of Toronto sometime in the near future.

“I don’t have any official date set yet when I’m going to announce, but as soon I feel 100 percent, it should be soon,” he said.

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