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GV grad picks Golden Gophers

Guard Ahanmisi signs letter of intent to play for Minnesota

Posted: May 15, 2010 10:16 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley graduate Maverick Ahanmisi, center, dribbles during a game against Hart on Jan. 13, 2009. Ahanmisi has signed a letter of intent to play at Minnesota.

When former Golden Valley guard Maverick Ahanmisi enrolled in prep school following high school graduation, he had every intention of signing with an NCAA Division I program the following year.

But even he had a hard time envisioning that it would be a Big Ten program.

"It was pretty shocking," Ahanmisi said. "My dad always says that when you're patient, you get what you want."

Ahanmisi signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Minnesota last week after taking a two-day visit and being offered the school's final scholarship in this recruiting class.

His commitment comes just weeks after former Grizzlies teammate Trevor Wiseman signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Hawaii.

The 6-foot-1-inch Ahanmisi was named the All-Santa Clarita Valley Player of the Year and the Foothill League Player of the Year after his senior season. He said he verbally accepted a scholarship offer from Boise State but he wasn't able to get his paperwork in on time.

Therefore, Ahanmisi took the advice of his AAU coach Bob Gottlieb and chose to attend Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley. Post-graduate prep schools offer courses that help high school graduate enhance their academic transcripts, and they also offer athletes a chance to continue playing their sport to enhance their recruiting profile.

Ahanmisi averaged 20 points per game for Stoneridge, where he said he put on muscle and improved his skills as a pure point guard.

"That's what I've learned to really do, drive the ball, make decisions going toward the basket," he said. "That's what made the difference this past year, my decision-making is way better than last year."

Ahanmisi also played for Branch West's AAU program this past year and he said Gottlieb was instrumental in contacting schools on his behalf.

The Minnesota coaching staff showed interest in Ahanmisi and began talks with Gottlieb about a scholarship a few months ago.

"(Gottlieb) sent out my film packages and everything," Ahanmisi said. "They liked it. The only thing they had to do was see if Tubby Smith liked it and he did."

Smith won a national championship as head coach at Kentucky in 1998 and he guided the Golden Gophers to a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament this past season, where they lost in the first round to Xavier. Ahanmisi expressed excitement over the chance to play for Smith.

Minnesota needs depth at the point guard position after backup and Los Angeles native Justin Cobbs decided recently to transfer to a school closer to home. Ahanmisi knows that nothing will be handed to him, however.

"If there's any chance for a spot, I need to compete," he said. "They need someone to help spread the floor. They feel I can be that guy, so that's what I can bring to the table."

Ahanmisi, who said he's interested in majoring in business and becoming involved in sports management, will head up to Minneapolis on June 11 for two months of summer school before coming home to Southern California. He will then head back up for the fall semester on August 22.

Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz lauded Ahanmisi's abilities and contributions to Golden Valley, and he said he thinks Ahanmisi will be successful at the Division I level.

"The one thing about Maverick is he's unflappable," Printz said. "He has the same demeanor and confidence no matter what the situation is. Coach Smith is one of the greats and he's a very demanding coach. I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised."


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