New head men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino’s first three recruits are now officially Gophers.
Carlos Morris, Nate Mason and Josh Martin — all three-star, 2014 recruits, according to Rivals.com — signed their letters of intent to Minnesota on Wednesday.
“All three, I think, fill specific needs that we wanted to address,” Pitino said at a press conference Wednesday. “All three bring different things to the table. So we’re excited about them.”
Pitino said Martin, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Bothell, Wash., is probably going to start his career at power forward, but Pitino said Martin wants to play the three. Martin has a great motor that doesn’t stop, Pitino said.
“It starts at warm-ups and doesn’t end until the final buzzer sounds,” Pitino said.
He joked coaches could call the future combination of Martin and sophomore forward Joey King “the bash brothers.”
“That’s just the way they are,” Pitino said. “They’ve just got that type of motor and that type of mentality. I think they’ll be really good together.”
Pitino said Martin isn’t a typical power forward.
“He’s quick. He’s athletic, and he’s a bit of a mismatch,” he said at the conference.
Nate Mason is a 6-foot-1-inch guard from Decatur, Ga. Pitino said Mason can play point guard or shooting guard.
“We felt like he was a steal,” Pitino said.
Pitino said he heard about Carlos Morris when Morris was at Arlington County Day High School and Pitino was at Florida. Morris originally committed to South Carolina before ultimately playing junior college ball at Chipola College.
The Gophers are currently succeeding on the court with point guard DeAndre Mathieu, another junior college product.
Pitino said he plans to call Morris by his nickname, “Squirrel.”
“I’ve never called him Carlos,” Pitino said. “[He’s] ‘Squirrel’ to me.”
Pitino said all three recruits have the chance to play right away next season.
Pitino has faced a few challenges in recruiting since being hired from Florida International in April. He had less time to build relationships with recruits than most coaches, and he didn’t have a large body of work to display to players.
“Nobody knows you,” Pitino said at the conference. “Nobody knows your brand. Nobody knows your style. Certainly they’re not watching a lot of FIU basketball.”
Pitino said the Gophers will continue to recruit for this year. Former Robbinsdale Cooper High School five-star guard Rashad Vaughn, among other recruits, will make his college decision in the spring.
“I don’t think you ever want to settle,” Pitino said. “If you can get a guy who can help your program, we’re looking for that.”