Attention, and a dearth of it from a school with on- and off-court difficulties, figured prominently in Lakeville North junior Nathan Reuvers’ choice of border rival Wisconsin as his college basketball destination.
Reuvers, a 6-10 forward with 25 Division I offers, verbally committed to the Badgers on Wednesday. He praised new Wisconsin coach Greg Gard for making two visits to Minnesota, including one to Reuvers’s home. While appreciative of school visits by Gopher assistant coach Ben Johnson, Reuvers said he only heard from head coach Richard Pitino by phone.
A lack of attention added to Reuvers’ concerns about the Gophers’ myriad issues. Last winter Minnesota set program records for the longest losing streak (14 games) and overall losses (23). Four players have been suspended or arrested in the past three months.
“Some people have said I was taking a jab at the Gophers, others said it was fine,” Reuvers said Thursday. “[Incoming freshman] Michael Hurt is a good friend and I wish them well but they have their issues and that’s a reason I didn’t choose Minnesota.”
Reuvers averaged 19.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this past season. The Panthers lost in the Class 4A state tournament championship game.
Lakeville North coach John Oxton also credited Johnson for his recruiting efforts but felt something might have been missing.
“Maybe it was a situation where Nathan wasn’t as high of a priority as other kids,” Oxton said. “I told Nathan, ‘You’ve got to go where you feel comfortable and wanted.’ I think coach Gard coming to see him twice spoke volumes. And Wisconsin is a stable, winning program.”
Four Minnesotans in the Class of 2017 have scholarship offers from the Gophers, including post players Theo John of Champlin Park and Jericho Sims of Cristo Rey Jesuit in Minneapolis. Reuvers said he has talked to his fellow college prospects but never in depth about what program they might attend or why.
Reuvers said of Minnesota: “I think they’ve got the right guys coming in but I don’t have time to see what’s going to happen.”
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574