There was a point this summer when Richard Pitino made it clear he wanted Gabe Madsen to be the first Minnesota boys' basketball player in the 2020 class to commit to the Gophers.
The 6-foot-6 wing from Rochester Mayo was previously scheduled to be the first in-state senior target to make an official visit with the U. But Madsen is off the board now after he and his twin brother, Mason, committed to Cincinnati on their visit over the weekend.
It was going to be tough for the Gophers to land Madsen without offering a scholarship to his brother. Pitino was being careful with the three scholarships available for the class.
"We can't take every kid in the state," said Pitino, speaking generally about recruiting last week. "Sometimes we might not need that position. Sometimes it might not be the right fit — and that's OK. That's not necessarily a big deal."
Pitino can't talk about recruits who haven't signed, but he would probably tell fans not to panic about losing Madsen. But where do the Gophers stand now with the rest of their in-state 2020 targets?
Prior Lake's Dawson Garcia, Hopkins' Kerwin Walton, Eastview's Steven Crowl and East Ridge's Ben Carlson all made an unofficial visit to the Gophers last Thursday before the football team's opener against South Dakota State (while 2021 Arizona guard Frankie Collins and 2020 Kansas guard Ty Berry made official visits).
The atmosphere was ideal with P.J. Fleck's squad winning in front of an announced 49,112, the largest opening crowd at TCF Bank Stadium since 2015. The next step, though, will be for Pitino to play host to some Minnesota natives this fall at football games on official visits.
Walton, Crowl and Carlson already scheduled official visits elsewhere. Carlson spent Friday at Xavier, but he also has trips to Wisconsin, Purdue and Stanford set for the next three September weekends.
Crowl and Carlson both visit the Badgers during their football game Saturday vs. Central Michigan. Crowl also has official visits planned for Colorado and Iowa this month.
Walton's only scheduled official visit so far is with Arizona on Sept. 27. Garcia, who should be narrowing down his list and scheduling official visits in the next week or so, also has an offer from the Wildcats.
Crowl and Carlson are projected by 247Sports.com's crystal ball to commit to Wisconsin and Xavier, respectively. Five-star Minnehaha Academy guard Jalen Suggs, who has only made an official visit to Gonzaga, is predicted to join the Zags.
The 6-foot-11 Garcia's top offers are from Kansas and North Carolina. Another blue-blood program has shown interest in Kentucky. But Memphis, Indiana, Marquette and Baylor seem like the schools in the mix at Minnesota's level. The Golden Eagles had been an early projected favorite for Garcia by 247Sports.com, but they are now 50% on the crystal ball to land the five-star big man.
Both Garcia and Walton have spoken very highly of the Gophers this summer. Walton said recently he is wide open with his recruitment. The 6-4 sharpshooter has a Kansas offer, but he's also hearing a lot from Ohio State and Iowa State. Arkansas might also be appealing since he has family there.
Overall, Pitino has only lost two recruiting battles — besides Gabe Madsen, Park Center forward Dain Dainja has committed to Baylor — with the seven scholarships offered to Minnesota's 2020 prospects. So, there is still a chance he could keep at least one of the state's best players from leaving home.