Will he stay or will he go?
NIT consolation game could be Rickert's last as a Minnesota Gopher
NEW YORK -- When Rick Rickert steps on the court this afternoon at Madison Square Garden in the consolation game of the NIT, it might be his last game as a Minnesota Golden Gopher because he's considering the NBA draft.
"It may be, it may not be," said Rickert. "Either way, it's going to be a great thing. I'm just looking forward to playing."
Minnesota (19-13) plays coach Bob Knight and his Texas Tech Red Raiders (21-13) before the title game between Georgetown and St. John's.
Knight saw the Red Raiders blow a 10-point lead against the Red Storm before losing 64-63 while the Hoyas dominated Minnesota 88-74 on Tuesday in the other semifinal.
Rickert, a sophomore, won't announce his NBA decision until after the game, but he knows what it is. He said after the Gophers' overtime victory against Temple last week that he had made up his mind.
Underclassmen have until May 12 to declare for the draft, according to the NBA's Web site. As long as he doesn't hire an agent, Rickert has until June 19 to withdraw his name before the NBA draft on June 26.
Rickert's decision likely will affect the Gophers' recruitment of several junior college frontcourt players.
"If I were to go, I would feel that I was ready, but then again, maybe I'm not," Rickert said. "I'm going to gather some information. I want some input. What do my parents think, what does my fiancee think?"
Rickert and Gophers coach Dan Monson are scheduled to sit down in the near future and gather information from NBA general managers and player-personnel officials in an attempt to get a better understanding of where Rickert would be selected. Rickert's combination of size at 6 feet 10, mobility and shooting touch make him an intriguing prospect.
"We just want to get as much information from general managers, the actual people who pick," Monson said, "not the people on the Internet or scouts."
NBA scouts and college basketball analysts have been outspoken in saying Rickert should return to school for at least another season to get stronger and work on his game to improve his position in the draft.
"The kid has great upside," ESPN analyst Bill Raftery said before the Gophers lost to Georgetown. "There's still areas of his game he needs to work on."