Jamison Battle Expected to Leave Gophers; Take His Chances at Pro Level

AP Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team has had one of the worst two-year stretches in program history, under new head coach, Ben Johnson. Year three is likely his last chance to show exponential improvement before AD Mark Coyle is forced to move on.

Any chance Johnson has at turning the program around will largely depend on how many of his good players leave this offseason. While there is hope that Dawson Garcia, along with most of the bright youngsters on roster, are committed to Ben long-term, they’re sure to suffer some large losses. It’s impossible to avoid these days.

Jamison Battle expected to go pro

One of those losses is already being reported and it’s going to hurt. According to both Ryan James (GopherIllustrated.com) and Andy Greder (Pioneer Press), two of the Gophers’ best players, Jamison Battle and Ta’Lon Cooper, are expected to forgo their final year of eligibility and go pro.

Jamison Battle wants to move on to the professional level and will almost surely do so. Talon Cooper went through senior day and he seems like he would like to go pro as well. What about everybody else? It’s time to wait and see.

Ryan James – GopherIllustrated.com (247Sports)

But next year’s roster has already taken hits. Battle was the U’s second-leading scorer and is expected to forgo his final year of eligibility and try his luck playing professionally. Transfer point guard Ta’Lon Cooper appears to be moving on, as well.

Andy Greder – Pioneer Press

Will Jamison Battle play in the G-League or NBA? We don’t know. But there’s no doubt Battle, especially if he’s willing to take his game overseas, can make money playing basketball. Ta’Lon Cooper will surely have to jump an ocean if he wants to do the same, right?

Gophers’ NIL game is weak

We can’t know all the details to why Battle and Cooper are ready to leave the program but some — if not all — of it is money-motivated. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. Money is what motivates most of us. I ask that question as to point out the University of Minnesota’s clear disadvantage in the Name, Image and Likeness era of college athletics we currently live in.

If Battle could get, even as little as, say, $100,000 to continue his basketball career in Dinkytown, why would he roll the dice and possibly have to move across the world to keep his dream alive? The answer: He probably wouldn’t. We know that NIL money was part of why star prospect Dennis Evans pulled out of his LOI last month.

The University of Minnesota needs to make the handoff of NIL money much easier for willing donors. At the same token, we need more of those within the fanbase with deep pockets to step up and show their “buy-in” level, ASAP. If those things don’t happen, football and basketball at the University of Minnesota are in huge trouble.

jamison battle pro minnesota gophers ben johnson nil
AP Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn
Blow it all up

Of course, it’s always possible that a lawsuit reaches the right people and the NCAA // major universities are finally forced to pay athletes themselves. Something like that would level the playing field for teams like the Gophers and make “NIL” a thing of the past.

Backdoor deals would turn into transparent iron-clad contracts and we’d see a salary cap that all schools would have to abide by. Something like this will become reality someday but will it be soon enough to save Gopher football and basketball from sure disaster?

Neither the regents, nor the rich people who love Gopher athletics, should allow us to find out.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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