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Gopher Basketball Nugz - Early June Edition

Defections, schedule updates and rule changes

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

We’re solidly in the summer doldrums of college basketball, so program updates and news are a little scarce. But with schedules coming together and transfers and recruiting still happening there are few updates here and there. Here are some of the latest happenings:

Amir Coffey has decided to go pro

Weeks after announcing that he was going to test the NBA Draft waters, Amir Coffey officially made his decision to go pro, forgoing his final year of college eligibility and hoping for the best at the professional level. Despite not being projected to be drafted or even invited to the NBA Draft Combine, Coffey is going to continue moving forward with his decision that he is going to play professionally next season.

On one hand, it’s hard to stomach the program’s best player leaving the program, especially with an uncertain future and the potential to significantly improve his draft stock during his senior season. On the other hand, preparing to play professionally is really what college basketball is about for high-caliber guys like Coffey, so you can’t fault him for trying to realize his dream. Still, his departure will compound the graduation of Jordan Murphy and leaves a gaping hole for the team as it approaches the 2019-20 season.

Isaiah Washington transfers to Iona

The enigma that is Isaiah Washington will take his Jelly Fam brand and style back home to New York, as the point guard announced his intention to transfer to Iona College and continue his playing career a bit closer to home. Washington never really found his footing with Minnesota and in the Big Ten, despite being a highly-touted recruit out of New York City. Transferring to Iona will allow him to be closer to where he grew up and the MAAC seems to be a good fit on the surface.

Jelly’s game never seemed to jive with Pitino’s offense as the score-first point guard had a tough time distributing the ball to the players who needed it the most. That resulted in dwindling court time as his sophomore season progressed. Good luck, Isaiah.

It’s official, men’s college basketball is extending the three-point line

The men’s college basketball 3-point line is being pushed back next season to the international distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches, extending the current line of 20 feet, 9 inches. The rules committee cited the following rationale for extending the line:

  • Making the lane more available for dribble/drive plays from the perimeter.
  • Slowing the trend of the 3-point shot becoming too prevalent in men’s college basketball by making the shot a bit more challenging, while at the same time keeping the shot an integral part of the game.
  • Assisting in offensive spacing by requiring the defense to cover more of the court.

Gophers will play Clemson next year in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The non-conference schedule took shape a bit more as it was announced that the Gophers will host Clemson as part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. If it seems like Minnesota has faced Clemson a few times before, it’s because they have. The two teams have squared off twice in the Challenge. Both games were at home in Williams Arena with Clemson defeating the Gophers in 2006 and Minnesota winning in 2015. Overall the Gophers are 3-2-1 against the Tigers. Last year’s Clemson squad made it to the NIT where they won their first game before losing to Wichita State. Someday Minnesota face someone other than Clemson, Florida State or Virginia Tech. I can feel it.

The Gophers will head to Butler in the Gavitt Tipoff Games

In additional schedule news, it was announced that the Gophers will head to Butler during the Gavitt Tipoff Games, according to Jon Rothstein. For fans of history, the game offers a unique chance to check out historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, which is the sixth-oldest arena in the game.

This isn’t necessarily the Butler of old. The Bulldogs finished last season 16-17 overall, including a 7-11 record in the Big-East, which was good for last place. It was just the fourth time since 1997 that Butler didn’t qualify for a postseason tournament.