Tubby recruits Walker, hopes to land Cory Joseph

Maurice Walker signed a letter of intent to play at the University next season.

Tubby recruits Walker, hopes to land Cory Joseph

Michael Rietmulder

The University of Minnesota menâÄôs basketball team opened the spring signing period Wednesday by introducing the third member of Tubby SmithâÄôs 2010 recruiting class, which could help the Gophers make a push for Cory Joseph. Maurice Walker, a 6-foot-10 center from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., signed a letter of intent to play at the University next season. Prior to going to Brewster Academy, the Ontario native played for Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School where he was named 2009 Ontario Mr. Basketball. âÄúMaurice is an outstanding player with a high basketball IQ and is a very skilled player,âÄù Smith said in a statement. âÄúOn top of that, he is a great student and a fine young man.âÄù Ro Russell, who coached Walker as a freshman on his Grassroots Canada AAU team, said that when he was younger, he was very talented but needed to get into better shape. Russell said the three-star recruit, who who is listed at 280 pounds, has improved his game by working with his high school coaches. âÄúHeâÄôs at a point where he could come in and help a program at a high level,âÄù Russell said. Walker joins the 6-foot-11 center Elliott Eliason and 6-foot-3-inch guard Austin Hollins in MinnesotaâÄôs 2010 recruiting class. While Smith and the Gophers are happy to add Walker as their latest signee, they are anxiously awaiting a decision from WalkerâÄôs friend and former teammate. Cory Joseph, a five-star recruit and younger brother of current Gopher Devoe Joseph, is also considering the Gophers. The younger Joseph is a 6-foot-3 point guard and the No. 7 overall recruit in the country, according to Rivals. Joseph also has the University of Connecticut, Villanova University, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and the University of Texas on his short list. Russell coached both Walker and Cory Joseph at the AAU level and said Tuesday that he didnâÄôt know which school Joseph will end up at next year. âÄúWith Cory, heâÄôs been real tight-lipped about everything âĦâÄù Russell said. âÄúWhen heâÄôs 100 percent sure what he wants to do, heâÄôll let us know.âÄù Joseph is currently in New York with his Findlay College Prep coach Michael Peck to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Peck, who was unavailable for comment, had previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Joseph would travel to Toronto after SaturdayâÄôs game to meet with his family about his decision. The chance to play with his brother and good friend Walker could help bring JosephâÄôs unique talents to The Barn next season. The Joseph brothers could potentially form Tubby SmithâÄôs 2010-11 starting backcourt. Russell said Cory Joseph and Devoe played together at the AAU level and complemented each other very well. Though the two shared point guard duties, Russell said Cory Joseph is more of a natural at the position. However, Cory JosephâÄôs highly touted Findlay Prep teammate Tristan Thompson is heading to Texas next season. The fellow Ontario native will also play in the Jordan Brand Classic this weekend and is ESPNUâÄôs No. 10 overall high school recruit. While the Gophers wait to see what Cory Joseph and other sought-after recruits will do, other recruitâÄôs futures hang in the balance. Oto Osenieks, a 6-foot-9 forward, has been recruited by Minnesota but has yet to come on an official visit. Aaron Lee, OsenieksâÄô coach at Brehm Preparatory School in Carbondale, Ill., said Tuesday that the University was pursuing other players as well and may not have a scholarship for him. âÄúWe should know sometime in the next 24 hours whether or not heâÄôs coming for a visit this weekend,âÄù Lee said. Players have until May 19 to sign letters of intent for the 2010 season.