Recruiting class a mystery to expert

Todd Zolecki

Much like a military project kept under wraps, the three recruits signed by the Gophers men’s basketball team for the 1997-98 season are known by name, but unknown by their skills and abilities on the court.
Recruiting expert Bob Gibbons, who made his career attending camps and ranking high school and junior college recruits across the country, seems to know as much about coach Clem Haskins’ incoming class as anyone else. It’s not all his fault — one played on a military base for three years and another at a small junior college in Kansas.
Gibbons, however, thinks the group has the potential to surprise many people by the time their careers end.
Minnesota’s 1997-98 recruiting class includes: Antoine Broxsie, a shot blocking center from Tampa, Fla.; Kevin Clark, a shooting guard from Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kan.; and Kevin Nathaniel, a 20-year-old swingman who spent the past three years in the Air Force.
“This is a class which has a certain air of mystery to it,” Gibbons said. “All three of these youngsters are somewhat unknown nationally.
“From a national perspective there’s no instant name that leaps out and — wow, I can’t believe they got this guy. But that’s not to say they haven’t got three players who won’t help them down the road.”
Broxsie, who signed May 16, is 6-foot-10 and 220 lbs. He averaged 17 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocks per game his senior year at Tampa Bay Technical High School. Haskins said the sky is the limit for Broxsie.
Gibbons ranks the Tampa native amongst the top 150 recruits in the country.
“You can’t teach size and athletic ability, and he’s got that,” Gibbons said. “But they have to work with him and teach him the offensive parts of his game.”
He said Broxsie has raw talent which needs to be refined before he is a key contributor in the Big Ten.
Gibbons heard by reputation that Clark is a fine shooter and scorer and should fit in at shooting guard. He admitted he didn’t know much about Nathaniel, who played the last three seasons at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
He figures he is good because Texas coach Tom Penders became irate at the Gophers when they took Nathaniel away from the Longhorns at the last minute.
“Therein lies the mystery,” he said. “Who are these guys? How good are these guys? How many people knew Bobby Jackson was going to be as good as he was?”
The Gophers still have one scholarship available, but they aren’t expected to sign anyone until the fall signing period.