A look at Tubby’s top recruits

In the past few weeks, the Minnesota men’s basketball team has been spurned by not one, but two recruits the Gophers thought would likely be the final addition to their 2008-2009 recruiting class.

Three weeks ago, California big man Krys Faber – who was thought to have eagerly been ready to commit to Minnesota dating back to the fall – chose Big East school DePaul over Minnesota.

And on Monday night, Champaign, Ill., point guard Verdell Jones III, just 12 days after a visit through Dinkytown that was thought to have made the Gophers a frontrunner for his services, elected to be a part of Tom Crean’s rebuilding plans at Indiana.

Despite failing to add a sixth player to Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class, Minnesota still has a Top 25-ranked class set to take the court next fall – some observers are calling it the second best in the Big Ten – after landing a pair of talented junior college players and three heralded high school prospects.

Here’s a peek at the five players who have signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Gophers next season:

Colton Iverson

Iverson, a 6-foot-10-inch forward/center from Yankton, S.D, was the first of three incoming freshmen to commit to coach Tubby Smith.

Iverson committed to the Gophers in late September before his senior season, but didn’t let his production slip because of it – being named South Dakota Class AA Player of the Year after his high school swan song.

Iverson has reportedly bulked up to 240 pounds and hopes to be at 250 by the time the season rolls around in order to be physically ready for rough low post battles come Big Ten season.

Ralph Sampson III

The most intriguing name of the group, Sampson III – a 6-foot-11-inch center from Duluth, Ga., and the son of former NBA and collegiate star Ralph Sampson – put up gaudy numbers his senior year at Northview High School and could battle with soon-to-be senior center Jonathan Williams for the starting center position.

Sampson III, a member of the U.S. All-Stars that played the Capital All-Stars in April, had a triple-double of 14 points, 18 rebounds and 11 blocks in a first-round playoff win in February.

Whether those numbers translate to Sampson’s college career remains to be seen, but the 220-pounder, who orally committed to the Gophers in late October, should see plenty of playing time in his first season in maroon and gold after the loss of senior center Spencer Tollackson to graduation.

Sampson is set to appear on campus with Iverson to begin classes and workouts on June 15.

Devoe Joseph

The 6-foot-3-inch combo-guard out of Pickering High School in Ontario, Canada has Williams Arena faithful excited after choosing the Gophers over Texas and national champion Kansas among other prominent schools.

A terrific shooter, Joseph – a member of the World Select Team that played U.S. Select basketball in the Nike Hoop Summit in April – is one of the most heralded Canadian prospects out of the class of 2008 and should see playing time his first year in what has become a deep Gophers’ backcourt.

Devron Bostick

A Racine, Wis., native who spent the last two seasons at Southwestern Illinois College, Bostick will enter Minneapolis with high expectations after being named Division I National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5-inch, 205-pound guard averaged 18.2 points, grabbed 4.9 rebounds and chipped in 3.2 assists per game last season.

The big guard figures to be in the Gophers’ backcourt rotation when he enters the program as a junior next season thanks in large part to his ability to hit three-pointers.

Paul Carter

A junior college transfer from Missouri State-West Plains College, Carter – a 6-foot-8-inch, 195-pound forward – figures to make an immediate impact because of his maturity.

Despite an injury-plagued campaign as a redshirt freshman, Carter – at one time being considered NBA potential – averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

An athletic player that should immediately help defensively and on the boards, Carter will have three years of eligibility left when he makes his way to Minneapolis.