With the Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s basketball season kicking off on November 9th, we will be previewing all members of the roster. Curry, originally planning to be a graduate assistant, returns to the Minnesota roster as a player to help Coach Ben Johnson’s roster transition.
Height: 6’ 9”
Weight: 240 lbs
The forward from Memphis, Tennessee has been on the Minnesota roster since the 2016-2017 season. He predates the PJ Fleck era. That’s unbelievable. Curry had a promising freshman year, including 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game as well as an impressive 96.1 defensive rating in 20.0 minutes per game. A torn ACL forced Eric to redshirt in 17-18. A follow up arthroscopic procedure forced him to miss the first 12 games of the 18-19 season. In the games he did play, the explosiveness and quickness present during his freshman year never fully returned. A right foot injury forced him to miss the final seven games of the season. In this beleaguered session, Eric averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes of game action. Curry then suffered his second ACL tear in October of 2019 and missed the entire 19-20 season. He was elected team captain for the 2020-2021 season and averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing in 29 games and starting eight.
There are Gopher fans who remember what Eric Curry looked like in 2016-2017 and they all speak fondly of his game. He had good touch from the elbows, played great defense, and showed signs of being an high-level rebounder. But the injuries have taken their toll over the years and it was apparent during the 2020-2021 season that Curry lacked the explosiveness required to be a the truly impactful player he was on course to be. Perhaps another year of his body healing and him getting used to his limitations may help improve his fluidity on the court but there have been so many health concerns that it is hard to be too optimistic. Despite this, Curry figures to be an important leader of the team.
The once-bouncy forward may find himself starting at the center position, as noted by GopherNation here. It would be an excellent story if Eric managed to have a productive season while simultaneously guiding some of the younger players on the roster and promoting cohesion amongst the team. One can only imagine that Coach Ben Johnson has asked Curry to return to utilize his perseverance and leadership as an example to the rest of the team. Curry’s college basketball experience should prove to be an asset for this rag-tag squad both on and off the court.