Gophers’ Budding Homegrown Big Man Pharrel Payne is Entering Transfer Portal

pharrel payne
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team is going through some serious changes, even though their season is only a couple days out from ending. On Wednesday, it was reported that backup forward, Josh Ola-Joseph was entering the transfer portal.

Minnesota Gophers blossoming big man Pharrel Payne enters transfer portal

On Thursday, Travis Branham (247Sports) is reporting that 6’9″, 230 lb sophomore (junior next year) big man out of Cottage Grove, Pharrel Payne, is following Ola-Joseph’s lead and entering the portal, as well. This one hurts and may signal a scary portal season on the horizon for Ben Johnson’s program.

According to Tony Liebert (, Payne is getting large NIL offers from other schools, but he’s also moving on for a change of scenery, vs continuing his college career just a few miles away from his hometown.

Payne is massive, but his loss may be even bigger. He was supposed to be one of three or four building blocks that we thought Ben Johnson planned to build around. The local kid is just as talented as he is large. No, he isn’t going to splash 3’s like other 2024 big men. But in the Big Ten, that’s not the most important thing to have in your post.

When Pharrel Payne came in as a freshman, he was already bigger than 95% of every basketball player on a Big Ten roster. When he’s banging down low, there isn’t a soul in the country who is going to dominate the paint. He even gave Zach Edey fits, in their matchups the past couple years.

Related: Cam Christie’s NIL Value is Reportedly Up to $10,000/mo; Pharrel Payne’s Rising Too

But now, those days are apparently dead. The loss of Josh Ola-Joseph, on Wednesday, hurt. But the transfer of Payne hurts a lot more. Unless Ben Johnson pulls a proven star out of that portal, to replace his now transferring big man, this one is going to prove devastating. How about some more bad news? It looks like this transfer exodus isn’t over…

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