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Gopher Basketball Recruiting: Illinois Preps, Tory Miller & More

09/21/2012, 2:05pm CDT
By J.B. Bauer

Alex Foster, Gavin Schilling, Ben Moore, Tory Miller & More

Notes & commentary on several 2013 Chicagoland basketball recruiting targets and more

Ben Johnson

Former DeLaSalle (MN) Islander & Minnesota Gopher Ben Johnson is now an assistant at Nebraska. The Huskers seem to be everywhere the Gophers are when it comes to recruiting these days.

As mentioned yesterday (Alvin Ellis Looks Like a Good Fit For Minnesota), this weekend Minnesota plans to host two Chicago-area recruits who have had the interest of Tubby Smith and his staff for some time.  Alex Foster and Alvin Ellis played together at De La Salle (IL) during the 2011-12 high school season and were teammates again during this spring and summer with the talented Meanstreets AAU program.  The Gophers will also host Kansas City-area big man Tory Miller this weekend.

In addition to Foster and Ellis, the Gophers have been involved with a number of others in basketball-rich Illinois.  In terms of knowledge and experience within the world of Illinois prep basketball, it's tough to compete with Roy & Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye. These gentlemen offer plenty of information at their website, but were also kind enough to discuss certain players in further detail with me this week.

Alex Foster
Physically, the 6'8" Foster looks the part of a 4 man, but from what Illinois Prep Bulls-eye and I have seen, he hasn't embraced the idea of being a low-post threat even though he has the ability to rebound and score around the basket. 

Foster averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game during the EYBL regular season, shooting an impressive 62.0% eFG (only 1 3FGA all season).  As I often make known, free throws aren't usually a big concern for me, but he may need a change in method after continuing struggles (converted just 9 of 30 attempts for 30.0%).  

Alex has long been considered a player with plenty of potential and even though he hasn't lived up to the early hype that surrounded him, Illnois Prep Bulls-eye believes he is one of those players who could end up being more productive in college than he has been in high school.  They think Minnesota is recruiting Foster mainly as a 3 man as that is probably his best college position due to his ability to run the floor and finish in transition, as well as shoot from the perimeter.  

In case you missed it: GopherHole contributor Chris Monter talked to Foster several weeks ago and covered a number of topics including Foster's participation in the Nike Skills U camp and his recent transfer to Seton Academy (IL). 

Gavin Schilling
Schilling has lived and played all over the map, including international competition with Germany.  Roy & Harv Schmidt commented that the 6'9" forward is outstanding on the break, a force on the boards and a terrific shot blocker, but to this point has relied mainly on his world-class athleticism.  His offensive game is raw and improvement in this area will be the key to his overall progress.

Gavin is now at Findlay Prep in Nevada and although the school's former coach Mike Peck accepted the head coaching position for the NBDL's Idaho Stampede just last week, the program remains in good hands with assistant Todd Simon being promoted.  Being at Findlay will provide a significant focus on skill development and also allow Schilling to play often against elite-level competition.   

Under his circumstances, the fact that Schilling is considering waiting until the spring to decide on a school makes sense more than it might for others. Should Minnesota bring in a similar player between now and when Schilling makes his call, it might still make sense for the Gophers to stay in touch.  This is a big year for the senior and he may very well raise his stock measurably over the next several months.  

EYBL regular season statistics for Schilling (Mac Irvin Fire): 13.0 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, team-high 37 offensive rebounds in just 247 minutes played, 54.1% FG% (no 3FGA).  

In case you missed it: Chris Monter also spoke with Gavin Schilling in April.  

Ben Moore
Moore is a long, lanky 6'8" forward from Bolingbrook ("hi" to my friends at the Tilted Kilt on Weber Road) who is receiving a lot of attention after a strong summer.  Illinois Prep Bulls-eye had identified him as a diamond in the rough long ago and their projections are proving true.  I last saw Moore in Las Vegas in late July with Team Rose where he put an exclamation point on a very good summer showing, but he is continuing to impress the many coaches coming to see him now in open gym play.

"He is a jumping-jack athlete with great instincts on the glass.  He is a strong rebounder, has great hands and consistently finishes with authority.  In addition, he is a superb interior defender."  -- Illinois Prep Bulls-eye

Moore is off to SMU this weekend after rescheduling a visit initially planned for October and now has the attention of a number of high major schools. With his length and athleticism, he's a type of player I greatly enjoy watching and the upside potential is there. The question now is just how good can he be?  

Tory Miller (Kansas City, MO)
The big (6'8", 240 pound) power forward hails from Kansas City but is attending school this year at New Hampton Prep (NH).  Miller played his summer ball with KC Run GMC and their talented point guard Connor Frankamp, a Kansas commit also in the 2013 class.

An ACL injury as a freshman may have slowed his development some and there is a degree of upside with Miller.  Nonetheless, what he could immediately provide to Minnesota is another interior presence that the Gophers are in need of next season. He's a big body, but with the help of a change in diet and hard work, he's been able to get himself into good shape.  

From Tubby Smith's perspective, he can certainly offer a great opportunity for Miller to earn early playing time that many other schools can't.  That said, I think the Gophers also need to take a long look at certain JUCO players to bring in next year.

A common theme you'll begin to notice if you haven't already is Nebraska's involvement in recruiting kids that the Gophers also have interest in.  This is a prime example, but it's tough to examine the recruitment of most any Gopher target without the names of Nebraska head coach Tim Miles and former-Gopher & current Nebraska assistant Ben Johnson coming up.  (Huskers also have shown interest in all the other players covered in this article.)

The relationship between Miles and Miller dates far back in time and Nebraska also has a need for a player of Miller's type.  The Huskers faithful had dreams of 6'9" Omaha high schooler Akoy Agau giving the program a boost in 2013, but the native of Sudan gave his pledge to Rick Pitino and Louisville this week.  

Other Notes

  • Alex Ellis added an offer from Butler yesterday.
  • Minnesota was in Illinois and saw Foster, Ellis and Moore this week. 
  • Speaking of Illinois, new head coach John Groce and the Illini may struggle a bit on the court this coming season, but it's not going to last long.  Another guard from Meanstreets (and Simeon high school), Kendrick Nunn, committed to Illinois last weekend and there are other impressive talents that may give their pledge in the very near future.  While Groce's relationship with Nunn dates back to the head coach's time at Ohio, the new head man in Champaign has hit the ground running.

J.B. Bauer
Twitter: @jbbauer612

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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball