MINNEAPOLIS - It’s Memorial Day weekend, but that’s not stopping University of Minnesota men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino from adding to his roster.
According to Evan Daniels with 247Sports, David Mutaf, a 6-6 guard from Turkey, gave his verbal commitment Sunday to play for Pitino and the Gophers next season. Mutaf picked the Gophers over Arkansas, and had reportedly drawn interest from USC, Georgetown, Missouri, Arizona State and others.
Mutaf will added shooting to the Gophers, who finished near the bottom of the Big Ten last season in three-point percentage.
“I decided to go University of Minnesota because I believe that Gophers is a good program for me and during recruting process I had good communication with coach Pitino and his staff.” Mutaf told Daniels. “I believe they have good team and great fans. I am really excited to play there.”
Mutaf is 17 years old and will be an incoming freshman next season. He played most recently with the Fenerbahce’s 19-and-under team, averaging 22 points per game and shooting nearly 44 percent from three-point range.
In 2018, he averaged 11 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while playing for Turkey 16-and-under team in the European Championships. He likely leaned on former Gopher Alihan Demir for part of his decision. Demir, a grad transfer last season at Minnesota, is originally from Turkey and knows Mutaf.
Mutaf is the third commitment for the Gophers’ 2020 class and the fifth new player to join the team. Other incoming freshman include Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Martice Mitchell. Pitino has added power forward Brandon Johnson, a graduate transfer for Western Michigan, and center Liam Robbins, a transfer from Drake. The Gophers will be seeking a waiver for Robbins to play immediately next season.
In addition losing Michael Hurt, Demir and Brady Rudrud to graduation, Daniel Oturu is likely to stay in the NBA Draft process. Marcus Carr is also in the draft process, but is likely to return to the Gophers next season. Guards Payton Willis and Brian Greenlee transferred from the program in the off-season.
With Mutaf's addition, Pitino and the Gophers have one scholarship remaining for the 2020-21 season.
The NCAA announced late last week it’s allowing campuses to open June 1 for voluntary workouts in football and basketball. It’s not clear if the Gophers will participate in that. It will depend on decisions in the state with Governor Tim Walz and the Coronavirus pandemic, and health and safety protocols with players potentially traveling to the Twin Cities from out of state.