Gophers target Jimmy Whitt sees uptick in recruitment

Jack Satzinger

It's not hard to see why Jimmy Whitt's recruitment has caught steam of late. The class of 2015 Gophers target showed his versatility at the Howard Pulley Invitational on Saturday, knifing through defenders for inside buckets, hitting outside shots and finding teammates in transition. 

The 6-foot, 2-inch four-star guard now has over a dozen offers and more could be coming this Summer as the AAU season hits its stride.

"It's a testament to the hard work I've been putting in that coaches are starting to see," Whitt said. 

Minnesota offered about a week ago and is starting to build a relationship with Whitt, who head coach Richard Pitino sees as a guy that could develop into a great defensive player in the Big Ten. 

"He just loves the way I play," Whitt said of Pitino. "I feel like we're building a really good relationship."

Whitt's high school coach, Dave Johnson, has ties to Minnesota as Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune pointed out. Whitt said he hasn't spoken to Johnson about playing for the Gophers, but expects to once the high school season is up and running. 

The Gophers' staff could not attend Saturday's games in Eagan, Minn., due to the current NCAA quiet period, which allows coaches to speak with recruits over the phone but not face-to-face unless it's a campus visit. Whitt said he has unofficially visited Kansas, Creighton, Kansas State and Arkansas but is unsure of where he will take his official visits. 

Whitt said it's been a few days since he's talked to Pitino, but Gophers assistant Ben Johnson was in contact with him Saturday. Minnesota's staff envisions Whitt as a combo guard at the next level. That's not surprising, given his athleticism and frame that may be stretching.  

"I might put on a couple more inches," Whitt said. 

The lanky recruit said he's trying to play more physical, because players at the next level are going to be bigger. 

"I'm definitely in the weight room," he said. "To put on some weight and get stronger."

Aside from an energetic fanbase, Whitt said he wants to go to a school where he can get a great education. He wants to major in business or marketing, which could give the Gophers an edge. Minnesota's Carlson School of Management consistently ranks among the Midwest's top business schools. Whitt said he and Pitino haven't talked about education yet, but he expects they will "at some point."

Andre Hollins is in the Carlson School of Management on top of being one of the Gophers' top players, which Whitt found encouraging. 

"To see that somebody else can do it — it gives you a lot of confidence," Whitt said.