Roster turnover is nothing new in college basketball, especially in today’s environment. Sadly for Ben Johnson, he has had incredibly high turnover in both of his offseasons. This year may not be quite as bad as the previous two seasons, but next year’s roster is going to look very different again. Here is a breakdown.
Who is leaving?
We know for certain that Taurus Samuels will no longer be with the team. He has expired his eligibility and is done as a college basketball player. Jamison Battle and Ta’Lon Cooper both have 1 year remaining, but both of them took part in senior day and will not be with the Gopher program next year as they have hit the transfer portal one last time.
Our seniors pic.twitter.com/6ncNpjFjND— Minnesota Men's Basketball (@GopherMBB) March 6, 2023
With these three players certain to be absent from next year’s roster, it is going to be a real challenge to replace your starting PG and your best player. Cooper and Battle have been the two stabilizing forces on a roster full of youth.
Will we lose any more transfers?
Well, there are always transfers, and in addition to Battle and Cooper we know that Jayden Henley and Treyton Thompson are entering the portal. One of these was a regular starter who got better throughout the season and the other is Treyton Thompson.
The real question is, will we lose any MORE transfers? And that really comes down to how much has this team stayed connected and committed to building something. It was a brutal year of losing. A lot of losing! Are they going to stick around to see it through? At this point in the offseason, any more transfers seems unlikely.
After the win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament, Ben Johnson was really pleased for his guys after that win. Expressing that it was such an “up and down season.”
Up and down? This just felt like down...all year.
So if this team is committed to this, then you should expect that the core of young guys is going to stick this out for another year. If this year was just too much and frustrations mounted, you may see a number of key guys decide to go elsewhere.
Who is coming in?
Well, as of now there is only one guy coming in. Cam Christie is a great shooting guard out of Illinois and he will be the only incoming freshman. A 6’5”, 4-star guard whose brother played for Michigan State is now with the Lakers. He should bring in some improved perimeter shooting and certainly some depth.
In addition to the valuable incoming freshman, the team has secured 2 incoming transfers.
Mike Mitchell Jr is coming to play point guard from Pepperdine and Jack Wilson is transferring from Washington State to be a backup big.
After that, there is still ample opportunity for playing time here, primarily on the perimeter. Expect at least one more significant addition at guard or small forward.
I think the reality is that we are going to be in this cycle of hitting the transfer portal until we begin bringing in a couple of back-to-back solid high school classes. The 2022 class was very solid and will be the core of this team. But losing Dennis Evan and just one incoming freshman is going to perpetuate this need for transfers for a bit longer.
What do we need?
With PG secured, we really need more help on the perimeter. A shooter and/or a combo guard are needed.
I think the lineup next year will look something like this.
PG - Mitchell
SG - Carrington
F - Ola-Joseph
PF - Dawson Garcia
C - Payne
B - Christie
B - Isaiah Ihnen
B - Parker Fox
B - Kalen Betts
We really don’t know what kind of contributions we will get from Christie or Betts so more depth in the backcourt is a desperate need.
Landing 2 Big Ten-caliber perimeter players is imperative. One of them absolutely had to be a point and that has been secured.
Assuming Ihnen and Fox are able to contribute, the frontcourt is in decent shape both in terms of talent and depth.
Technically I think there are still 3 scholarships to work with for next season. I do think there will be attempts to keep the roster balance and avoid having to replenish so much of the lineup year-over-year. So landing a transfer who will have more than just 1 year of eligibility would be really nice. Currently, Mike Mitchell Jr is the only junior on the team.
What will next year look like?
Well, you see the roster above. Is that team better than this year’s? It really depends on two things.
1 - How much improvement (fewer mistakes) will we see from this year’s freshmen?
2 - What kind of transfers are we going to get? We need guys who can contribute in meaningful ways.
I do think next year’s team will be better. They’ll be more competitive and it will result in more wins. How many more wins? Probably not a lot, but still plenty of questions to be answered.