Gophers recruit Tre’ Williams fell just short of a prep school national championship in his senior season earlier this month. The next step for Williams on the hardwood will be with the University of Minnesota, after he graduates from Wasatch Academy in Utah.
The four-star guard is ready to join now, though, if he could.
“I feel like the whole season was a success,” Williams said. “I led my team to nationals. I matured and became a better leader. I took my game to another level with more confidence. This is what I’ve been preparing for being out of Wasatch.”
The Gophers have four scholarships available — and possibly a fifth open spot later this summer if junior Amir Coffey decides to stay committed to the NBA draft process through June. They are excited to have Williams, but they’re looking to add more players this week to join him in their 2019 recruiting class. The signing period for basketball reopens Wednesday and lasts a month. With those open chairs to fill and an NCAA tournament victory to build on, expect Gophers coach Richard Pitino to be quite busy this spring.
Pitino received a commitment earlier this month from 6-10 center Sam Freeman of Northwest High (Texas), who is expected to sign at a school ceremony Friday. Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) four-star guard Grant Sherfield is also considering the Gophers, along with Wichita State and Wake Forest. A former UCLA recruit, Sherfield had an official visit with his hometown Shockers over the weekend.
Gophers assistant Kyle Lindsted, a Wichita native, has known the Sherfield family for years. The 6-2 combo guard came away impressed after visiting the Gophers when they defeated Purdue on Senior Night in early March.
Pitino and his staff are also hoping to add some experience to the roster, especially in the frontcourt. Drexel junior forward and graduate transfer Alihan Demir is visiting the Gophers on Friday. The 6-9 Demir averaged 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and shot 51.2% from the floor this season.
Isaiah Ihnen, an 18-year-old up-and-coming prospect in Germany, said he will see Texas Christian and then the Gophers during his official visit tour starting this week. Ihnen, who is 6-9 and has a 7-4 wingspan, is scheduled to arrive in Minnesota on Sunday.
The national recruiting of Williams picked up after he signed his letter of intent in November. There wasn’t much buzz around the 6-5 guard from Dallas when he committed, but he blossomed into a four-star, top-100 prospect during his senior year.
Williams was happy to see his future school finish strong this season.
“They made a great run,” Williams said. “I think everyone was sleeping on them coming into the year. But once I went out on a visit and saw the guys play, I knew they had a chance to do big things. Coming into that momentum is good for me.”
Williams will join 2018 transfers Marcus Carr (Pittsburgh) and Payton Willis (Vanderbilt) as newcomers in the backcourt rotation next season. Williams wants to show he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to help his team win.
“If you’re versatile and have a variety of skills you can be on the floor at all times,” Williams said. “I feel like I can be used in so many different ways that I should get minutes.”
Pitino agreed that defense and versatility likely will get Williams playing time.
“He can play three different positions,” Pitino said. “That’s the goal in recruiting, to find guys who can play multiple positions and be able to move them around and have versatility. To be able to switch and defend different guys. I think Tre’s versatility is great. Like Gabe Kalscheur this year, he’s coming in eager and willing to defend.”
Securing versatile players who can make a quick impact will fill Pitino’s next four weeks, and eventually four chairs on the Gophers bench.