Gopher Volleyball's Hugh McCutcheon discusses his #1-ranked incoming class |

Gopher Volleyball's Hugh McCutcheon discusses his #1-ranked incoming class

Chris Long
Created: May 22, 2020 11:58 PM

A national publication deems Gopher Volleyball's incoming class the best in the nation and it features the #1-rated player among the nation's high school Class of 2020.

"It’s nice to have some validation of our process," head coach Hugh McCutcheon says. 

But he adds, much like in-season polls and rankings, he prefers not to put much stock in rankings.

"One of the things we can’t control is people’s expectations or assessment - for example - of an incoming freshman class," he says. "We understand that’s out there but that’s other people's stuff. Doesn’t have to be our stuff. 

"The most important thing is *we* really like the class. They're talented on and off the court, they're academically strong and people of character - things we think are important - and it turns out, yeah, they can all play volleyball at a really good level."

Click the video box on this page to watch KSTP Sports' one-on-one interview with Gopher volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon covering his top-rated recruiting class, #1-rated player Taylor Landfair and how he balances having a roster loaded with talent but a finite amount of playing time to go around

"I know Minnesota is number one by a bunch,” a panel voter is quoted saying in Volleyball Mag's article proclaiming the Gophers incoming crew the NCAA's best.

The Gophers haul includes four graduating high school seniors: Cami Appiani (San Diego, CA), Taylor Landfair (Plainfield, IL), Melani Shaffmaster (New Castle, IN) and Jenne Wenaas (Frisco, TX).

They also picked up Katie Myers, a graduate transfer from the University of Maryland. tabs Landfair as the #1 recruit among the nation's high school seniors.  She early-enrolled at the U and arrived on campus in January.

Wenaas is also regarded among the top three to five recruits in the nation.

The cupboards weren't exactly bare on McCutcheon's roster coming out of last season's run to the NCAA Final Four, either. Eleven players return including All-Americans Regan Pittman and Stephanie Samedy as well as CC McGraw, who was All-Big Ten.

McCutcheon has proven over his eight seasons as Gophers head coach he can adeptly handle a roster laden with talent but also eager for playing time.

“It’s come and work hard, come and grind. We don’t promise anyone playing time or starting positions, but do promise everyone we’ll invest completely in their development," McCutcheon says. “We’ve shown over the years we have mechanisms in place to help us develop athletes over four years. For some schools it may be 'recruit studs and let ‘em be studs,' but we want to recruit studs and make them even better.

"The goal is for us to get ours, rather than an individual getting theirs. We all might have a different role today and it might change tomorrow. 2019 was an example - people doing different things on different nights against different opponents - the team collectively trying to win.

"Anyone in our gym can earn it through work and effort, they can change their stars in the gym.  It takes some trust to believe that, but that’s been how we’ve run it and it seems to be relatively successful."

McCutcheon's Gophers have the NCAA Final Four three times in the last five seasons.'s top ten incoming classes:

  • 1) Minnesota
  • 2) Kentucky
  • 3) Texas
  • 4) Wisconsin
  • 5) Stanford
  • 6) Michigan
  • 7) Florida
  • T8) UCLA 
  • T8) Ohio State
  • 10) Nebraska

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