Orono forward Jarvis Thomas became the fifth Minnesota prospect in the Class of 2018 to receive a scholarship from the Gophers on Wednesday after his unofficial visit.
“It just felt good to know it is an option,” said Thomas, who also has scholarship offers from Arizona State, Iowa State, Marquette, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Wake Forest.
Thomas, a springy 6-foot-8, 225-pound senior, said he’s not ready to make a decision anytime soon.
Blessed to have been offered by my home town school The university of Minnesota ��〽️ pic.twitter.com/BHhKQdcEyB— GTM JTO™ (@harvisthomas) June 15, 2017
But Gophers fans probably hope he doesn’t wait long. He’s been dazzling fans in person and on social media with his highlight-reel dunks all spring and early summer for Howard Pulley’s AAU team.
Making the most of his first season in the Nike EYBL, the St. Paul native has been one of the fastest rising players in the country. With top 2018 point guard Tre Jones running the show, Thomas has flourished in the open court – turning Howard Pulley’s fast breaks into dunk city.
But dunking isn’t all he can do. Thomas is an aggressive offensive rebounder and intimidating shot blocker. Having background as a football player makes him unafraid to be physical and play through contact.
Thomas said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said Wednesday he liked “my toughness and my ability to run the floor and be versatile – and how I can basically guard (five positions).”
Pitino compared Thomas to current Gophers starting power forward Jordan Murphy, a 6-7 dunking and rebounding machine. Murphy earned All-Big Ten honors last season as a sophomore.
If Thomas is like Murphy, then Gophers 2018 commit Daniel Oturu is like current Gophers center Reggie Lynch. Thomas and Oturu play together in the frontcourt for Howard Pulley.
“Daniel is a good kid; he’s a fun guy,” Thomas said. “Me and him play really well together I think, if not one of the best combinations for a frontcourt in the EYBL.”
In the 2018 class, Pitino also offered scholarships to locals Tre Jones of Apple Valley, Race Thompson of Armstrong and Gabe Kalscheur of DeLaSalle. Oturu, a 6-10 center from Cretin-Derham Hall, is the only Gopher commitment so far. Kaslcheur made an unofficial visit Monday to the U with no decision yet.
Pitino, who landed two Minnesotans with Amir Coffey and Michael Hurt in 2016, struck out after offering six in-state players in the 2017 class. But the Gophers big turnaround last season to reach the NCAA tournament and new facilities could attract more local recruits this year.
Thomas has been training with ex-Gopher Jonathan Williams since he was in the seventh grade when he couldn't dunk at 6-3. He's now the most athletic high school player in Minnesota.