Gophers MBB Working Transfer Portal Hard in Anticipation of Losing Their Own

ben johnson minnesota gophers
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again in college basketball. Transfer portal season. Hundreds of division-1 hoopers across the country have already entered their names into the portal, even as the NCAA Tournament rages on. So far, no Minnesota Gophers have made the move, but there’s a strong belief that will change soon.

Ben Johnson expecting transfer portal losses

The term ‘transfer’ still triggers college basketball fans who remember fondly the days where transferring only happened in extreme one-off cases. But those days are long gone. Kids can come and go from school to school as they please so when circumstances aren’t ideal or an NIL offer comes calling, change is inevitable.

Local insider Darren “Doogie” Wolfson (KSTP) confirmed as much during his latest scoop session on Tuesday’s episode of Mackey & Judd (SKOR North), pointing to Ben Johnson’s robust activity in the transfer portal. The Gophers don’t have scholarships available, yet Minnesota’s head coach is acting like he has multiple roster spots to fill. Fox is one obvious candidate for departure, though he might be having second thoughts.

“I mean, they’ve been working the portal pretty well, so that tells you that they’re anticipating losing some guys. Like, I know there’s a meeting, heck, another conversation today, like on Parker Fox. What does Parker do? But just based on all the activity the Gophers are doing in the portal, it’s pretty clear that they’re anticipating losing some guys.”

Darren Wolfson – SKOR North

It’s understandable because you never know who might want out. Players like Josh Ola Joseph is another name that comes to mind, given his minutes were significantly reduced ast the season played on. But you just never know. Cam Christie could opt for the draft, Dawson Garcia could do the same.

Change is impossible to avoid in college athletics today. The important thing is that Ben Johnson remains proactive in the portal, which he clearly is. We should expect to hear more updates in the days ahead as Gopher players might make the move into the portal.

Minnesota Gophers very active in Transfer Portal

In today’s college sports world, recruiting extends beyond the traditional avenues to include tapping into the transfer portal. With a growing number of players opting to transfer each year, the portal has become a valuable resource for talent.

Ben Johnson, like most of college basketball, knows this new reality and he’s landed some impressive talent out of the portal during his tenure as the Gophers’ coach, including key contributors to the 2023-24 team like Elijah Hawkins, Mike Mitchell Jr, Dawson Garcia and Parker Fox.

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Two of those four names (Garcia, Fox) are local kids who left the state of Minnesota to play college ball, only to return via the portal. This year, he’s eyeing more homegrown talent, some of which we already know has interest in a possible to their roots.

During his scoop session, Wolfson also unveiled several players worth keeping an eye on as potential targets for the Gophers. Additionally, he hinted at the possibility of a significant name returning home, if they opt to transfer.

“Andrew Morgan from Waseca, who earned Second Team All-Summit League honors at North Dakota State, will visit the Gophers on Thursday. So, Ben Johnson is working the portal pretty well. He’s also after Taylor Heise’s brother, Nate Heise, from Lake City, who had a good run at Northern Iowa and still has two years of eligibility. He got a medical redshirt due to a finger injury a couple of years ago, but he was all-conference this year. And hey, like Iowa State, other schools are after him.”

“Certainly, the Gophers, I think, have a good chance to land both Morgan and Heise. I’m also keeping my eye on Will Tschetter, from Stewartville. But Michigan just got the Florida Atlantic coach, Dusty May, and that’s a great get for them, so maybe Will stays in Ann Arbor. But if Will enters the portal, that would be another name to keep an eye on. But the Gophers are also reaching out on some other names that don’t resonate locally.”

Darren Wolfson – SKOR North

Names To Watch

  • Andrew Morgan – NDSU (Waseca, MN)
  • Nate Heise – NIU (Lake City, MN)
  • Will Tschetter – Michigan (Stewartville, MN) *if he enter portal

Andrew Morgan (NDSU) recently completed his sophomore season at North Dakota State University, where he started 30 games and averaged 21.7 minutes per game. He maintained impressive stats, averaging 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 59 percent overall.

In high school, he was ranked as the No. 3 player in Minnesota’s Class of 2021 and was recognized as a Top 250 player nationally by Prep Hoops. Morgan played a pivotal role in leading Waseca High School to a state championship during his senior season.

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Additionally, he was a finalist for Minnesota Mr. Basketball in the 2020-21 season and earned a spot on the Associated Press All-State second team in 2021. As a junior, he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds, contributing to Waseca’s impressive 25-5 record.

Nate Heise (UNI) has just wrapped up his junior campaign at Northern Iowa University. Throughout the season, he showcased his skills by starting all 32 games. He maintained solid stats, averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3% from the field. Heise’s standout moment came in December when he recorded a season-high of 25 points in a single game.

Heise, who played for Lake City High School, had an impressive high school basketball career. He led his team to two state tournaments and earned several accolades. During his junior year, he averaged 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, earning him the title of Hiawatha Valley League Player of the Year.

In his senior year, Heise continued to shine, averaging 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game while leading his team to a conference championship. He finished his high school career with a school record of 2307 points.

Will Tschetter (Michigan), currently not in the transfer portal, may consider transferring due to changes in the Michigan Wolverines’ coaching staff. This potential move could present a significant opportunity for the Gophers. Tschetter, wrapping up his sophomore season at Michigan, averaged 6.8 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game.

During his time with Stewartville high school he emerged as a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 2021, he ranked second in the state behind Chet Holmgren. Recognized for his stellar performance, he earned Associated Press All-State first team honors in 2021 and was a consistent presence in All-League selections from 2019 to 2021.

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Throughout his four-year varsity career at Stewartville, he amassed an impressive 2,467 points, leading his team to multiple sectional title games. His exceptional scoring ability, highlighted by averaging 30.3 points per game in his senior year, showcased his talent on the court. Additionally, he excelled in rebounding, averaging 11.8 rebounds per game during his senior season and demonstrating his versatility as a player.

Full List of Transfer Targets

Here is a full list of players in the transfer portal who the Minnesota Gophers have contacted (per Tony Liebert – GoldGophers.com)

  • Andrew Morgan (North Dakota State)
  • Nate Heise (UNI)
  • Jake Davis (Mercer)
  • Isaiah Gray (Cornell)
  • Chris Manon (Cornell)
  • Jacob Meyer (Coastal Carolina)
  • Rowan Brumbaugh (Georgetown)
  • Dakota Leffew (Mount Saint Mary’s)
  • Ja’Kobi Gillespie (Belmont)
  • Frankie Filder (Omaha)

Other Minnesotans in the portal:

  • Brody Fox (Wisconsin-Stout)
  • Ahjany Lee (St. Thomas)
  • BJ Omot (North Dakota)

How does Ben Johnson plan on keeping his best talent out of the transfer portal, while also finding improvements in the same space? Well, NIL money will help and Doogie has pretty good news, on that front. Many have said this, but Doogie confirms that some of the cash numbers that are being thrown at these kids sounds unbelievable.

But more importantly, it sounds like the Minnesota Gophers basketball program has caught up, and possibly even surpassed a lot of its Big Ten competitors, when it comes to the bank of Dinkytown Athletes cash that Ben is able to dig into.

There’s a lot of money being tossed about, and I wish I could verify some of this, but the money being tossed about in the portal is freaking nuts. It really is. So, the Gophers have some money, actually more money than I think a lot of people realize, but it’s not as much money as some other programs. So, I’m just curious to see how it all plays out.

Darren Wolfson – SKOR North
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