Minnesota Gophers Basketball: Analyzing the Impact of the 2011 Recruiting Class

Joe PetruloCorrespondent IIIJuly 5, 2011

Minnesota Gophers Basketball: Analyzing the Impact of the 2011 Recruiting Class

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    The Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball program has recruited four players for its 2011 class.

    With the departures of Blake Hoffarber, Al Nolen and Colton Iverson, the team will need a boost from the newcomers.

    The class is split between two high school seniors and two junior college transfers.

    This may not be Tubby Smith's most renowned class, but this group may surprise some people.

    Let's take a look at the impact each of the four new players will make this season.

Andrew Ingram, PF: Butler Community College

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    Andrew Ingram will be a raw talent as he enters Tubby Smith's program.

    He will never be a go-to player in the post or someone that plays at both the beginning and end of games.

    Rather, he will be a contributing role player that has a very defined role in Tubby Smith's system.

    Smith loves players that give full effort at all times. He will substitute entire lineups at a time, and has no problem benching his big-name players for lack of effort.

    Ingram will be an extreme poor man's Trevor Mbakwe off the bench for this team.

    With the loss of Colton Iverson, Ingram will provide depth alongside redshirt freshmen Elliot Eliason and Oto Osenieks.

    His game is completely under the basket, and he is known to lack a soft touch around the rim.

    Still, he will be useful in providing energy minutes off the bench as he spells Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III.

Julian Welch, PG/SG: Yuba College

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    Julian Welch is a bit of an anomaly in college basketball.

    He spent one season at UC-Davis (Division I) out of high school and averaged 7.8 PPG in 18.5 MPG.

    That is usually an above-average freshman season. For whatever reason, Welch ended up at Yuba College—perhaps to eventually land at a bigger school like he has done.

    Welch could fill a hole for the Golden Gophers at point guard.

    Al Nolen's shoes are extremely large ones to fill. Welch's experience should give him the nod over true freshman Andre Hollins and the mediocre sophomore Maverick Ahanmisi.

    Welch is known as a scorer. He can shoot from the outside off the dribble and even better off a pass within the offense.

    He may need to tone down his scoring side a bit and turn into a distributor with veterans Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III returning to take on scoring roles.

    Still, he should start at point guard and play big minutes for Tubby Smith in 2011-12.

Joe Coleman, SG: Hopkins High School

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    Joe Coleman is the lone in-state high school player that will come to Minnesota as a freshman in this class.

    Coleman found extreme success in high school. He was a part of three-straight state titles over his last three seasons at the school.

    He has gained a reputation around the state as a great athlete who needs to work on his shot to become above average at the college level.

    He will not be able to rely solely on his athleticism in the Big Ten. Rodney Williams has proven that it takes more than a great athlete to be a Division I basketball player. After dominating Minnesota high school basketball like Coleman, Williams has struggled to be more than a role player in a Gophers uniform.

    Coleman will likely struggle to find minutes in his freshman season with Julian Welch, Andre Hollins, Chip Armelin, Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins all playing some time at the shooting guard position.

    Still, if he can steal some minutes from the other newcomers, Coleman will likely be a poor man's Williams: an energy boost off the bench with the occasional highlight play that ignites the Barn.

Andre Hollins, PG/SG: White Station High School

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    Andre Hollins could have two different levels of impact this season, depending on fluctuating circumstances.

    Hollins is the highest-rated recruit in this class, according to ESPN (a 93 grade) and Rivals.com (No. 110 on the Rivals 150).

    The best-case scenario would be that he steps in and proves that he has the ability to play point guard right away. This way, he could become the starting point guard immediately, beginning a wonderful career as Al Nolen's replacement.

    The other case, which is still acceptable, would be a backup role to Julian Welch, the junior college transfer from Yuba College. Welch has more experience and may be more prepared to lead a Big-Ten team as a starting point guard. In this scenario, Hollins can play solid minutes while honing his skills and gaining experience.

    Hollins is likely to turn out to be the best guard that Tubby Smith has recruited to the University of Minnesota thus far.

    Whether he starts as a freshman or grows into the starting role, Hollins will be seen on the court in 2011-12 and for years to come.