Pitino hires two off FIU staff to join Gophers

Andrew Krammer

New Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino is bringing two of his assistant coaches to Minnesota from Florida International.

Mike Balado and Kimani Young were announced as assistant coaches Wednesday afternoon – just five days after Pitino’s press conference that named him Tubby Smith’s successor.

Pitino hired Balado and Young to coach at FIU during his one-year stint with the Golden Panthers, in which FIU won its most games since 2000.

“Both of these guys played a huge part in our turnaround at Florida International,” Pitino said in a release. “They are well respected within the coaching community as terrific recruiters and leaders of student-athletes.”

Both Balado and Young recruited for FIU, per the release. The Gophers have four open scholarships as former Smith recruits Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster were reportedly released from their letters of intent.

Pitino said Friday he was looking “for the right fit” for Minnesota’s needs on the court.

“We’re not just looking to fill scholarships,” Pitino said Friday.

According to Gopher Illustrated, Foster said he received a call from a Gophers assistant and said Minnesota was going to go in a different direction. So far, Balado and Young are the only two assistants to have been officially named.

Minnesota marks Balado’s sixth stop as an assistant coach, second in a major conference. Balado was a graduate assistant at the University of Miami from 2008-09.

Young has one year of assistant coaching under his belt after leaving his post as Athletic Director of New Heights Youth, Inc. in 2012 to join Pitino at FIU. Young served as a scout and coach for Big Apple Basketball, Inc. from 2001-06.