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August 20, 2017

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A group led by former Gophers athletics director Joel Maturi is establishing the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame and will announce the first class of inductees in the coming months.

Maturi told Sports Headliners he’s been involved with the project for four-plus years and there will soon be a Hall of Fame display in the renovated Target Center that re-opens in October. “The inaugural (Hall of Fame) event will be some time this fall, or early winter in conjunction with a Wolves game,” he said.

The Hall of Fame will honor the accomplishments of not just former great high school players in Minnesota, but other contributors to prep basketball including coaches, media and referees.  The inaugural class of inductees is expected to total a dozen or so individuals.  “The first class is the hardest because there are so many deserving people,” Maturi said.

Joel Maturi

Maturi, who chairs a board of volunteers for the project, played high school basketball at Chisholm High School for the legendary Bob McDonald.  That experience is part of what provides Maturi motivation for the Hall of Fame.

The Minnesota shrine will be one of the few, if not the first in the country, to honor men and women with varied accomplishments and contributions to the state’s rich basketball history. Halls of Fame in other states for prep basketball honor only coaches.

Maturi was the Gophers athletics director from 2002-2012.  The University of Minnesota will soon officially rename the school’s Sports Pavilion in his honor.  As of September 2, the formal name for the facility will be the Joel Maturi University Sports Pavilion and the building’s exterior will bear the name “Maturi Pavilion.”

Maturi was more than surprised when school officials approached him about renaming the facility that hosts more intercollegiate events than any other at the U. “That would be an understatement,” he said.  “Surprised is too soft a word.  Stunned, shocked and overwhelmed.  I was humbled and honored.  I am really appreciative that the U is recognizing a decade of transition.”

Maturi was the Athletic Department’s first-ever director for both the men’s and women’s programs—bringing together what had been two separate and sometimes adversarial departments.  During the Maturi era football returned to campus with the building of TCF Bank Stadium, teams won five national championships, academics improved, and the department became more unified.

The U will honor Maturi prior to the Gophers’ volleyball match against Tennessee on September 2.  The ceremony will be part of what has been a memorable year for the 72-year-old, who had prostate surgery in April and is now cancer free.

Worth Noting

Myron Medcalf, the former Star Tribune sportswriter now on the college basketball beat for Espn.com, has the Gophers at No. 15 in his most recent “Way-too-Early” top 25 rankings posted Thursday.  Michigan State, who he ranks No. 4, is the only Big Ten Conference team ahead of the Gophers.  He writes the Spartans are the conference favorite for a title, but cautions not to overlook Minnesota.

Medcalf moved Duke to No. 1 in his latest rankings, noting the Blue Devils have so much talent that Minnesota native Gary Trent Jr., projected as one of the top freshmen in the country, may come off the bench rather than start.

The Twins beat the Diamondbacks 12-5 today, winning their 11th game in the last 14 and remaining a contender for the playoffs.  In their three-game series sweep the Twins out scored Arizona 27-8.

The Twins had a nine run first inning in today’s game at Target Field, the most runs they have scored in one inning since 2014.  Eddie Rosario received the loudest applause with his second career grand slam, but Max Kepler had a key role in the big inning too.  Kepler, who has struggled against left-handed pitching, got a hit off Arizona lefty starter T.J. McFarland to increase Minnesota’s lead from 2-0 to 4-0.

Joe Mauer, who didn’t play today, is hitting .500 in his last nine games with nine RBI.  He has raised his average to .290 for the season.

The Vikings added former Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner to their roster today.  After practice this afternoon Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said his organization liked Leidner’s past workouts but that the Lakeville South alum has struggled with passing accuracy.

Leidner wasn’t drafted by an NFL team after the 2016 season with the Gophers.  He attended the Ravens rookie minicamp but didn’t sign with the team.

Zimmer also said he liked the performance of rookie center Pat Elflein in Friday night’s preseason loss to the Seahawks, but he hasn’t decided who will be his starter in 2017.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association will relocate its men’s and women’s office staffs from Edina to Bloomington next week, moving into new space near Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers.

Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section.

A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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