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Minnesota Basketball: Checking Out the Gophers at Twin Cities Pro Am

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NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I was finally able to get down to De La Salle and watch several Golden Gophers participating in the Twin Cities Pro Am.

It is a pretty entertaining environment and some fun basketball, especially when you consider that we are getting to watch some talented athletes compete on the court in late June. Defense isn’t much of a priority unless you’re guarding the guy with the ball...and even then it isn’t exactly tencious. But the evening was entertaining and we got to see current and future Gophers on the court.

Here are a few brief notes on who I was able to see...

Not participating last night were Amir Coffey, Nate Mason Gaston Diedhiou and Dupree McBrayer as their respective teams had the night off. But all of them (sans Diedhiou) were in the gym in time for Isaiah Washington’s game, sitting next to him on the bench. I thought that bit of comradery and support was interesting.

The Big Guys

Eric Curry - Had a very good night for the most part. He took a handful of deep threes, which I wasn’t super happy to see but reminder that this is summer league baskeball and everyone was taking threes. On the plus side, he did bank one in. Curry is sporting a short/clean haircut and I didn’t even realize it was him initially. Highlight of the night was probably a nice drive by Quinton Hooker that resulted in an alley-oop to Curry.

Jordan Murphy - still a beast and really hard for guys to stop tonight. On one possession in the second half he had three guys hanging on his arm, got the ball to roll in with the foul. Then from my vantage point in the bleachers I saw his guy smile and say “damn, he’s strong.” He is. He and Curry occasionally battled with Murphy often winning that battle due to his strength.

Reggie Lynch - in the early game it was Lynch vs. Konate in the post. Lynch was very much typical Lynch. He blocked a few shots including a three. He was active and mobile around the rim showing off his soft touch with both hands. Nothing stood out as concerning with Lynch nor did anything stand out as new. Same haircut, same active big man who owned the paint.

Bakary Konate - The kid is just active and LONG. He looked better than he did during the season, but nobody should be expecting massive improvement and contributions from Konate next year. I’m seeing and will expect to see modest improvement and his contributions will still be to give the other big guys a break, particularly when in foul trouble. If he gets a little better, we’ll see slightly improved contributions. But he’s active, he plays hard and is a good asset as a depth big man.

The Guards

Michael Hurt - Played more confidently, never really stood out.

Jamir Harris - one of the two I was most looking forward to seeing and I came away impressed with Harris. He has a much stronger body than I was anticipating. I wasn’t sure it was him because I thought he looked much other than an incoming freshman. Missed most of his shots but the stroke was smooth and he was shooting from NBA range (NBA rules in the league). Played point about half of the time. He moved well, he was confident putting the ball on the floor and driving with powerful dribbling. No doubt he will be a contributor.

Isaiah Washington - did I make you wait long enough? Washington didn’t have a spectacular night and I think it was partially due to having Quinton Hooker (recent graduate of North Dakota, played his high school ball for Park Center). Hooker is a stocky, physical point guard and bodied up Washington quite a bit. It was a matchup I was looking forward to watching. Washington showed tremendous handles...the ball is a yo-yo in his hands and fun to watch. Even on a night that wasn’t his best, he showed his jets and handles along with a really smooth shooting stroke. I counted 4 step-back threes that were drained from behind the college three point line. I don’t have access to a box score, I’d be surprised if he hit 20 points this game and defensively he showed very little interest in guarding his man or helping out (again...it is summer league...I get it). Overall you certainly saw the talent, athleticism, jets, handles and shooting ability. He’s going to be very fun to watch.

There are plenty of other talented kids playing as well and I highly encourage you to get out and check this league out this summer. You can see Jamir Harris, Amir Coffey, Nate Mason (if he’s healthy), McBrayer, Lynch and Konate tonight starting at 5:45.