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Let’s Check In on Jarvis Omersa

Our basketball writers discuss the PF’s playing time and development

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Des Moines Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

When Jarvis Omersa first arrived at the U of M he was regarded as a high-flying power forward, a 3-star recruit who was leaps and bounds more athletic than perhaps anyone else on the court. He was part of a trio of local recruits expected to usher in a new era of local support and excitement among Minnesota preps who would consider the Gophers as a viable destination.

Since then Gabe Kalscheur and Daniel Oturu, the other two recruits, have become the core of the Minnesota offense, and while Omersa has been thrust into action because of an untimely injury to Eric Curry, he hasn’t had quite the ascent that the other two have.

Now a season and a half into his career, he has miles of opportunity at his fingertips with a thin frontcourt and no one to populate it. The question is, when are things going to click for him?

Ustreet and Zips have been hashing it out in the background and have decided to bring that discussion to the forefront.

Zips: Okay, we’re now two-thirds through Omersa’s second season, and he’s averaging 13 minutes per game. What’s your take on his development so far in his career? Frankly, I thought at this point, and with this much playing time we’d be seeing more growth than we have. In fact, he appears to be losing playing time as the season winds down.

Ustreet: It’s about where I expected on the defensive end and a bit behind on the offensive end. Let’s be brutally honest. Omersa would get 14 minutes a game only in the situations where Eric Curry, Alihan Demir, or Daniel Oturu was in foul trouble this season. He is a dynamic athlete, but was raw coming into college. In a different world from a development standpoint, he would have redshirted. Of course, that is not the world we live in. To some extent, I am always a bit surprised by takes that suggest players only develop through in-game minutes. The team practices for substantially longer than any given player will see game minutes, even Marcus Carr.

Zips: Fair enough. I guess I’m not really seeing that translate on the court, though, when we’re talking about a decently rated forward who has now played in 23 games this season.

Ustreet: I think the staff has done a good job and Omersa personally has done a good job of learning to be a physical defender without fouling. He provides a lot of energy on the court, and his dunks in transition are great. Personally, I am not sure what more you want from a depth rotation player.

Zips: I think you should expect a rotation player that’s thrust into a starting role to begin to show shades of being a reliable option at some level. Right now he looks like his brain is moving faster than his body, which results in unreliable execution and questionable decisions. He has flashes of getting to the right spot and anticipating, but those are fairly spaced out. Do you think Omersa will become that reliable option in the latter half of his career?

Ustreet: On offense? No. It would be great if that happened, but I have never seen Omersa as a player who is going to give you 10+ points a game. On defense? Definitely. I think he will be a solid defender who makes opponents works very hard to get looks by his senior year.

Zips: I really did/do expect him to become that 10-ish point-per-game forward option. I didn’t see it happening this year, especially since he’s only seeing 15 minutes per game. Still, I’m concerned that we may be seeing something of a regression because right now you can’t even extrapolate his minutes into something that resembles efficient production. Maybe we’re expecting a little too much from someone who may have redshirted this year in a different universe.

Ustreet: I don’t understand this idea of raising expectations for players because of situations outside their control. At the moment, I would like him to be more assertive on the offensive end than he has been, but I also I think the team as a whole misses opportunities to find their bigs for easy twos.

Zips: Okay, let me try this from a different angle. Given where you thought Omersa would fit into the team before the season began, what’s an acceptable amount of production for someone receiving his amount of playing time?

Ustreet: I would like to see him get 4-6 points a night while staying in the game long enough to give Alihan Demir a reasonable break. For the entire season, I have been grouping the two together as a combo four man, and what I would like to see out of a good four man is 12-16 points, double-digit rebounds, and a forced turnover or two.

Zips: I like the idea of looking at Demir/Omersa as a “unit”, but even then that unit is under-performing from a production standpoint. I’m really, really rooting for them, but that’s concerning when we’re looking into next year and beyond, especially with Demir graduating.

Ustreet: And with Oturu potentially heading to the draft.

Zips: Let’s not go there, please.