The Scoop: Wolves Like Oladipo
Created: 05/24/2013 12:02 PM KSTP.com
By: Darren Wolfson
Look for new Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders to engage Charlotte, holders of the No. 4 pick in next month's draft, in trade talks.
According to league sources, Saunders is a big fan of Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, and the only way to get him is to move up from the ninth-spot.
If the Wolves stay at No. 9, one league source predicts Saunders will take UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad. Word has it that the Wolves like him. But so does Detroit, and they pick one spot ahead of the Wolves.
• An unnamed scout, who was at the New Jersey workouts the last two days, on ex-Gophers forward Rodney Williams: "Athlete. Played hard. Didn't try to take over. Played team basketball. Didn't force anything. Solid to okay."
Williams has Kevin Bradbury for representation. He is also Wolves free agent Chase Budinger's agent.
• The same scout when asked to name a few guys who stood out: "Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota), Carrick Felix (Arizona St.), James Ennis (Long Beach St.), & Matt Dellavedova (St. Mary's)."
• Flip Saunders, R.J. Adelman, Rob Babcock, and scout Derek Pierce represented the Wolves at the New Jersey workouts.
• In addition to reaching out to his current players and draft duties, including last week's Combine, Saunders is re-acquainting himself with lots of agents.
• Roseville center Mike Muscala (Bucknell) turned down the chance to participate in a group workout at Target Center next week. However, he'll be working out for the Wolves in June. Mbakwe, after stellar performances at the Combine and in New Jersey, has also declined to take part in the Minnesota workout.
• The Wolves have not had any recent contact with free agent center Greg Oden.
• Elston Turner, who interviewed for the Charlotte coaching job, has not had any conversations with Wolves coach Rick Adelman about joining his staff. Turner and Adelman are very close, so it's entirely possible that those talks happen in the coming weeks.
• New Gophers guard Malik Smith's coach at Jacksonville College, Jody Bailey, on Smith's sophomore year:
"Tough player who once in a rhythm can make volume 3-point shots. He is someone who automatically stretches the defense because of his presence on the perimeter, which allows for even more freedom for his teammates. Smith improved his ball handling and making shots off the dribble and scoring in the mid-range area at FIU but must take that improvement to another level in the Big Ten. Good free throw shooter who should be great. Needs to share the sugar on offense even more and trust his teammates. He will take deep three-point shots that will make the Williams Arena faithful cringe if he is having an off shooting night. He has never been a special defender, but understands angles in the multiple defenses that Minnesota will employ which will make up for his weakness. Will know how to play in coach Richard Pitino's style on both ends of the court immediately and will provide instant leadership."
• The Gophers did their due-diligence on Class of 2013 Rivals top-100 center Dominic Woodson, a recent Baylor decommit, but have decided they don't have interest.
• Plans are still on for Nkosi Ali, a 6-foot-11 forward from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College, to visit the Gophers on Sunday. He also has interest from Kansas State, Pittsburgh and Murray State.
• Plans seem to be off for forward Derrick Randall, a 6-foot-8 Rutgers transfer, to visit the Gophers this weekend. According to his high school coach, Randall's mom passed away earlier in the week.
• A Gophers basketball source reports they still need to fill two or three games for this upcoming season.
• Bryan Bender, former video coordinator for coach Tubby Smith, will be a volunteer assistant coach with the Missouri State University West-Plains Junior College team. Bender just ended a seven-year run with the Gophers, the last two as the video coordinator.
• Rutgers transfer Vincent Garrett was hoping to be, but isn't in the Gophers' mix. The 6-foot-5 Garrett recently visited Wisconsin-Green Bay.
• After giving the Gophers a verbal commitment in February, Washburn four-star Class of 2014 running back Jeff Jones is re-opening his college recruitment.
"I committed a little early," Jones said. "Not that the Gophers is a bad spot. I just feel like I need to figure out exactly where my offers are from and to make sure I made the right choice. Get through my visits and see what these schools have to say."
Jones still lists the Gophers at the top of his list, which also has Michigan State, Iowa State, and Kentucky in the top-four.
Jones called Gophers coach Jerry Kill with the news in March. "He wanted me to stick with him. But he agreed with me looking at schools. He wanted me to keep my verbal commitment. But also to look at what the other schools have to offer and if I have a change of heart, just to let him know. ... The Gophers are still number one."
One reason Jones gave for wanting to take a longer look at all of his offers: His dad is once again a big part of his life.
• Chanhassen offensive lineman Frank Ragnow, who has a Gophers offer among many from BCS schools, will get a tour of campus from Kill in the coming weeks.
• Gophers' defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman recently completed a class that required some level of community service. To do so, he went back to his high school, Minneapolis Washburn. "Our young men have spoken to him and he's spoken to them," Washburn football coach Giovan Jenkins said. "He's giving them real life lessons. It's stuff that applies to being a better person. That's how I know he's grown up, matured."
• It's unfortunate to hear that former Minnesota Mr. Football, Gophers linebacker Peter Westerhaus (Holy Family Catholic HS), may never play again. He's dealing with a debilitating illness. Westerhaus was able to attend the spring game. His bad luck began in the spring before his freshman year. He suffered a hairline skull fracture when he was hit by a falling boulder while hiking with his family at the Grand Canyon.
• A source close to Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said this week there still have not been any contractual talks between the two sides. Morneau is a free agent after the season.
• Count the Twins as heavily interested in international free agent outfielder Lewin Diaz (Dominican Republic). Baseball America was the first to report. The international market is open for business starting on July 2. There is a cap. The Twins have the fourth-most money to spend, just shy of $4 million. There's a good chance that an international draft is coming, possibly as soon as next year.