Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino has now managed to reel in two recruits who previously committed to other programs, as 6-foot-7 small forward Jordan Murphy announced Friday night that he’ll be a Golden Gopher. Murphy previously signed with VCU, but was granted a release from his National Letter of Intent after former head coach Shaka Smart left for Texas.
The San Antonio native becomes the sixth freshman in Minnesota’s 2015 recruiting class, joining guards Kevin Dorsey, Jarvis Johnson and Dupree McBrayer, forward Ahmad Gilbert and center Jonathan Nwankwo. The Golden Gophers also added former Illinois State forward Reggie Lynch, who will have two seasons of eligibility after sitting out the 2015-16 season.
Murphy joins Gilbert as members of the class who picked Minnesota after originally signing with other schools. Gilbert signed with George Mason but received his release in the aftermath of the school firing Paul Hewitt.
As a senior at William J. Brennan HS, Murphy averaged 23.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Both he and Gilbert play a position where Minnesota was in need of additions, which will allow for them to compete for playing time as freshmen.
While the most important task for a new head coach is to make sure that the current players are taken care of, recruits who have committed to the prior staff are important as well. In some instances that can mean informing the player that they no longer fit in the plans, and in others the coach looks to convince those talented players to stay the course and remain committed.
That’s the task new VCU head coach Will Wade is faced with, as he’ll have to go through the process of re-recruiting players who signed with the prior staff. Thursday it was reported by Tim Pearrell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch that VCU signees Jordan Murphy and Kenny Williams have requested to be released from their National Letter of Intent (NLI), with the latter meeting with Wade on Thursday.
This news comes two days after it was reported by the Washington Post that four-star small forward Tevin Mack requested to be released from his NLI but no decision had been made by VCU at the time. In the case of Williams, a Top 100 recruit who held offers from programs such as North Carolina and Indiana, it was reported by Pearrell that the shooting guard is still willing to consider VCU despite receiving the release.
As for Murphy, the Texan is considering Oregon, UCLA, Gonzaga and Miami according to Ben Baby of the San Antonio Express-News. Murphy still has three official visits remaining (he only visited VCU and UNLV before committing), which is a positive for him when it comes to making a final decision regarding his college destination.
If there’s a positive for VCU from a recruiting standpoint it’s that the first of two evaluation periods this month begins Friday afternoon, with another coming during the final weekend of April. There will be opportunities to watch other players in the Class of 2015 that may be looking for offers and will also fit what Wade wants to do with the program as he looks to build upon what Shaka Smart was able to accomplish.