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Gopher Basketball Nugz - Sept. 23

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Jordan Murphy slights, Vancouver Showcase update and, is Joey King going to be an Olympian?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Guys, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but college basketball season is a mere five weeks away. Five. The Gophers kick off the season with an exhibition game against UMD on Thursday, Nov. 1 and open the season up with Omaha on Nov. 6. It’s close. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some happenings in and around the program:

Jordan Murphy’s polarizing previews

Season previews are starting to trickle out, and with those come some player predictions and rankings. Jordan Murphy is going to be the talk of the Gophers this year and, if the initial previews are any indication, it’s going to be a bit polarizing. Consider that Street and Smith’s preview features Murphy on the cover of the regional publication, though, as Marcus notes Murphy is a no show as a preseason All-American and didn’t get picked on the preseason All-Big Ten first team inside the magazine. That’s right, the dude who averaged a double-double, was sixth in the conference in scoring and led the B1G in rebounding by a full TWO REBOUNDS PER GAME isn’t preseason All-B1G. Oh, is that not enough? He was also the only player to average double digit rebounds, was top 20 in steals per game and led the conference in offensive rebounds. Jiminy Christmas.

On the other hand, Andy Katz picked 25 seniors who will make an impact this year, and Murphy was #9.

Jordan Murphy, Minnesota (16.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg): Murphy is the definition of a double-double player. He is a lock for it every time out. The Gophers had an injury-riddled/chaotic Big Ten season. Murphy is a positive constant that will settle the Gophers and give them a real shot to get back to the NCAA tournament and reach their potential.

The Gophers picked up a surprise commitment

It’s not every day you get a surprise commitment from a four-star, top 100 player, but that’s exactly what happened with Tray Jackson, who became the first commitment of 2019 for Richard Pitino. Jackson, a 6-8 PF out of Sunrise Christian Academy, committed just days after visiting campus and gives Pitino some breathing room after the program struck out on a couple high-profile recruits.

The Vancouver Showcase is still trying to figure out its identity

We covered the strange evolution of the Vancouver Showcase recently, and the event underwent another significant change last week, appearing to ditch the tournament-format and instead switch to a round robin between Minnesota, Washington, Texas A&M and Santa Clara. It’s a net gain for the Gophers, who now get a guaranteed matchup against Washington, a top team in the Pac-12 this year. However, because the organizers couldn’t find enough teams for the participants to play as part of the “guaranteed games” part of the tournament, the Gophers won’t get an additional home game as part of their participation. So, basically Minnesota traded a cupcake home game for a neutral site contest against a upper-tier Pac-12 team.

Joey King is playing 3-3 basketball and dominating

File this in the “random things former players are doing” category. According to the Strib, Joey King is establishing himself as a national 3-on-3 basketball powerhouse, winning the Red Bull Reign 3x3 title. Apparently [checks notes] 3-on-3 basketball is slated to be an Olympic sport beginning in 2020, and with rising popularity (Ice Cube founded a pro 3-on-3 league) I’m guessing we’ll start to hear plenty more on this. King appears to have at least a reasonable shot at making the Olympic team, finishing second the USA Basketball 3-on-3 championships at the Olympic Training Center in April.