Last year the Gophers had significant roster turnover, bringing in several graduate transfers and sporting a roster that was very unknown as we tipped off a year ago.
The Returners (2)
There are not very many names returning and only two of them are going to actually play.
Jamison Battle - At least we are starting with an All-Big Ten caliber player. Battle was a sophomore transfer last year and he had an outstanding season. Battle was 7th in the Big Ten in scoring and 13th in rebounding. He was clearly the team’s key offensive weapon and will be the team’s unquestioned leader heading into his junior season.
Treyton Thompson - Thompson really played sparingly as the team’s backup center. He had a couple nice games in late January which earned him more minutes throughout February but soon fell back into his role of playing closer to 5 minutes per game. Expect that Thompson will once again be a reserve big man, getting more playing time because Isaiah Ihnen and Parker Fox were both lost for the season.
The Transfers (3)
Ben Johnson really needed to replace two things from last year’s squad. First, he needed another scorer to replace Peyton Willis. And secondly, he needed guards.
Dawson Garcia - Garcia meets that first big need from the offseason...we hope. He will come to the Gophers, transferring from North Carolina, and will likely be the team’s starting center. He had an up-and-down season with the Tar Heels before leaving the team in late January due to family issues. Expect that Garcia will start and the hope is that he becomes a consistent double-digit scoring threat to complement Battle.
Ta’Lon Cooper - Enter your Gopher point guard that was desperately needed this offseason. Cooper comes to the Gophers from Morehead State where he was a 1st Team All OVC selection, averaged 9 points and almost 6 assists per game. He is a distributor more than a scorer, will be interested to see how he plays defensively. Cooper, and Garcia, have 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Taurus Samuels - A 6’1” guard from Dartmouth who averaged just over 9 points per game last season in the Ivy League. Samuels is a senior and expected to be a backup guard.
The Freshmen (5)
And here is where the potential influx of talent is coming into the program. This is where Ben Johnson is laying the foundation for this season and the next few.
Pharrel Payne (C) - Incoming center for the Gophers who was lightly recruited but really has garnered more and more buzz. There is talk that Payne is really someone that NBA scounts are looking at and could be a major steal for the Gopher staff. A true center with a strong lower-body with a lengthy upper-body. I expect Payne to start the season coming off the bench to play center and see the Gophers force matchup issues for opponents by bumping Garcia to the 4 and Battle to the 3. But there may be a day this season when Payne becomes your starting center.
Braeden Carrington (CG) - Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball, Carrington will come to the Gophers with an opportunity to start or possibly the first backcourt player off the bench. He is skilled enough to play both the point or shooting guard. But the hope is that Carrington is a scoring spark for this Gopher team. He was the first to commit in this class and is a key to this class.
Jaden Henley (G)- A 6’5” guard who can play either lead or shooting guard. Henley was lightly recruited but fits the theme of much of this class in that they were later bloomers who saw their stock rising throughout the summer. He comes to the Gophers from southern California and hopefully is going to bring his buddy with him in the next recruiting classl.
Josh Ola-Joseph (SF)- the final local recruit in this class and Ola-Joseph brings the athleticism and defense to this class. There is opportunity here for playing time, especially when the Gophers are going with a smaller, more athletic lineup.
Kadyn Betts (F) - was a 2023 recruit who decided to re-classify and come to the program a year early. Betts is in that SF/PF mold and is likley a primary backup to Battle, unless he is redshirted this season.
The Injured (2)
These guys missed last season due to injuries and unfortunately have experienced injuries again this offseason. So both of these guys were expected to
Parker Fox - D2 transfer who also had to miss last season due to injury.
Isaiah Ihnen - Injured yet again, unfortunately. Ihnen was the one holdover from the Pitino regime and there was much anticipation for him this season.
My guess at the lineup this year.
Likely starting lineup
- PG - Ta’Lon Cooper - Jaden Henley - Tarus Samuels - also expect Carrington here a lot
- SG - Braeden Carrington - Jaden Henley
- SF - Jaden Henley - Josh Ola-Joseph - also Battle sliding down to the 3
- PF - Jamison Battle - Kaden Betts - more likley Battle plays 36 min and Garcia plays some PF
- C - Dawson Garcia - Pharrel Payne
- B - Pharrel Payne - 15-20 min per game
- B - Josh Ola-Joseph - <5 min per game
- B - Tarus Samuels - <5 min per game
My guess at alternative lineup
- PG - Ta’Lon Cooper
- SG - Braeden Carrington
- SF - Jamison Battle
- PF - Dawson Garcia
- C - Pharrel Payne