Men’s hoops sign solid California duo to letters of intent

Anthony Maggio

Minnesota men’s basketball coach Dan Monson announced Tuesday the signing of two California prep standouts to national letters of intent.

Wesley Washington and Kerry Woolridge will both be eligible to play for the Gophers in 2003-04.

“We’re excited,” Monson said. “We think we’ve helped our basketball team for the future. I think Wesley will be able to help us immediately and I think Kerry will be a big part of the future.”

Washington, a 6-foot-3 guard from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., is a consensus top 100 recruit. Last year he became the second non-senior to be named Player of the Year in California Interscholastic Federation history.

Minnesota fell on good fortune with Washington, as assistant coach Vic Couch happened to stop at Mater Dei to see longtime friend and Mater Dei head basketball coach Gary McKnight while on a recruiting trip.

Earlier that day, the University of California – where Washington previously committed – called Mater Dei and informed them they wouldn’t take Washington.

McKnight told Couch about Washington, and Couch stayed to watch him practice. One week later, the Gophers received a verbal commitment from Washington.

“It’s the goofiest (recruiting occurrence I’ve had),” Couch said. “It just doesn’t happen all the time that way.”

Woolridge, a 6-foot-7 small forward from San Leandro, Calif., averaged 15 points and seven boards as a junior and was named all league in 2001.