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Smith rounds up solid first recruiting class at Minnesota

Four recruits have signed National Letters of Intent to play next season.

Recruiting was perceived to be one of Tubby Smith’s weaknesses while at Kentucky. But from early indications, it doesn’t appear Minnesota men’s basketball fans will have any reason to be as critical about Smith’s recruiting as those in Lexington.

Smith’s first recruiting is considered by experts as not just one of the best in the Big Ten, but one of the best in the nation.

Smith and the Gophers announced Thursday that four players – guard Devron Bostick, forward Paul Carter, forward Colton Iverson and center Ralph Sampson III – have signed National Letters of Intent and will play for the team in 2008-2009 season. All four players will have a chance to contribute right away, Smith said.

“In this class I feel like we were able to recruit our needs. We felt like we needed size, depth and experience, and we accomplished that with our commitments,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith said he expects junior college transfers, Bostick from Southwestern Illinois College, and Carter from Missouri State-West Plains College, to make the largest impacts right away because their bodies are physically stronger after playing collegiate basketball.

But while Iverson, a 6-foot-10-inch forward from Yankton, S.D. and Sampson III, a 6-foot-11-inch forward from Atlanta and the son of former NBA and collegiate star Ralph Sampson, might take more time to develop because they will be true freshmen upon arrival, Smith said he is equally excited about the Gophers potential starting frontcourt of the future.

“I think this first class is critical,” Smith said. “We needed to have a good recruiting class, and I think we have.”

Smith said Minnesota might try to add one or two more players to its current recruiting class.

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