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Gopher Basketball Returner Roundup: Gabe Kalscheur

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The sharp-shooting guard will look to diversify his game and lock down opponents in his sophomore season

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Minnesota vs Louisville Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Basics

Guard Gabe Kalscheur was one third of the exciting local trio that comprised a majority of Coach Pitino’s 2018 recruiting class. Hailing from Edina, Minnesota, he attended DeLaSalle High School and ranked 198th in the nation for his class according to 247. Gabe stands at 6’ 4” and weighs 200 pounds while sporting the #22.

What Happened Last Season?

Kalscheur, who started all 36 games for Minnesota, was an exciting freshman from the get-go which included averaging 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 0.8 steals per game. He led the entire team in 3-point shooting percentage (41.0%) and free throw percentage (75.0%). On top of that, he was the fifth most accurate three-point shooting in the Big Ten and had the fourth highest effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. He did this while maintaining a low turnover rate (especially for a freshman). The offensive cherry on top of all these stats was that he led the team in offensive rating.

But Kalscheur’s offensive prowess may not have been the most impressive thing about his freshman campaign. Gabe consistently guarded the opposing teams’ best scorer, unless that player happened to be a big man. In the Gophers’ upset over the Purdue Boilermakers in February at The Barn, now-NBA guard Carson Edwards was limited to 7-31 from the field, with one assist and two turnovers, mostly thanks to the hounding defense of the Edina native throughout the contest. It is rare to see this kind of on-ball defensive ability in a freshman but Kalscheur’s length, tenacity, and instincts served him well on the defensive side of the ball all year.

Gabe was capable of putting up big games when the team needed it most. In the Gophers’ NCAA Tournament first round victory over the Louisville Cardinals, Kalscheur scored 24 points on 8-14 shooting from the floor including 5-11 from three-point range. Adding eight rebounds to his tally, he played an important role on both sides of the floor under the bright lights of the Big Dance.

What Can We Expect This Season?

Along with fellow sophomore Daniel Oturu, Gabe returns with plenty of starting and Big Ten experience. Kalscheur was such an important player to last year’s team and the fact that he was so efficient offensively while still being a disruptive presence on the defensive side of the ball leads me to believe that even bigger and better things are in store for the guard this season. There were times last year when Gabe would utilize the threat of his three-point ability to get defenses off-balance and drive for pull-up jumpers. However, he still had nearly twice as many three-point attempts (188) as two-point attempts (95). I expect this to change just because the departure of Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy has opened up a lot of offensive possessions to be filled.

A diversification of his offensive game would definitely go a long way to making Kalscheur a multi-level threat for opposing defenses. If he can become more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball and improve upon last year’s 22.6% free throw rate, the sharp-shooters offensive game would greatly benefit. This is especially true when considering he shot 75.0% from the charity stripe. I imagine Gabe has been working on his on-ball offensive game during the off-season to improve his off-hand and the ability to penetrate to force defenses to consider multiple facets in his offensive game.

My expectations for Gabe this season are pretty high. He showed so much his freshman year that I may be getting overly excited. It is likely that with increased usage we could see a drop in efficiency. It’s also possible that with a true point guard helping carry the ball-handling load in Marcus Carr and another lengthy experienced guard in Payton Willis could pair with Kalscheur to terrorize opposing offenses on the perimeter. In an offense that is seeking to attempt more threes than last season, I’m very interested to see how the team’s best three-point shooter performs when the opposing team will be focused on running him off the three-point line. There’s too much here on both sides of the ball to not get excited about when it comes to Kalscheur. Pairing him with Oturu gives the Gophers two high-quality returning starters and if Gabe can nearly maintain his uber efficiency from last season, Minnesota stands a chance at being a successful offensive threat to opponents of all calibers.