Gophers nab first 2014 recruit in Pitino era

Three-star recruit Josh Martin gave his commitment to Minnesota on Monday afternoon.

Richard Pitino answers questions at a press conference Friday, April 5, 2013, at Williams Arena.

Daily File Photo; Jaak Jensen

Richard Pitino answers questions at a press conference Friday, April 5, 2013, at Williams Arena.

by Jace Frederick

Gophers head coach Richard Pitino has finally landed his first prize.

Josh Martin, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Seattle, Wash., announced his commitment to Minnesota via Twitter on Monday afternoon.

“It was cool to hear [Pitino’s] voice on the other end, the excitement he had,” Martin said about his talk with Pitino on Monday. “It was a good conversation.”

Martin, a 2014 three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, chose the Gophers over the likes of Florida State and Pittsburgh.

Martin could fill a glaring need for the Gophers at the power forward position.

“They need a guy who can pick-and-pop, and a guy who can get the ball at 15 feet and go to work.”

Minnesota’s current options at the position include Oto Osenieks, Charles Buggs and Joey King, all of whom are arguably best fit to be small forwards.

Martin averaged 11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds during his junior season at Bothell High School. Martin also played on the Friends of Hoop Seattle — an Amateur Athletic Union team — last year.

He possesses the athleticism necessary to execute Pitino’s up-and-down tempo and high-pressure defense.

“On offense, whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it,” he said. “But on defense, I’m going to make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.”

The Gophers previously missed the boat on big-time recruits such as five-star Isaiah Whitehead and four-star guys like J.P. Macura, Lourawls Nairn and Josh Perkins.

Pitino suffered a disadvantage this recruiting season as he was hired in April, well after most coaches had gained major inroads with the 2014 recruits.

Martin’s commitment could be key in the recruitment of fellow 2014 targets, with a lot of the class’s top talent still on the board.

“I’m definitely going to give them my two cents worth,” he said, “but I’m not going to tell them where they should or shouldn’t go.”