Busting Brackets

Minnesota Basketball: Breaking down early 2024 transfer portal moves

Minnesota v Michigan State
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Although several open roster spots means that the Gophers have work to do moving forward, several transfer additions are already in the fold. None bigger, quite literally, than the add of Canisius big man Frank Mitchell.

Mitchell, an Ontario native, began his collegiate career at Humber College in Toronto before making his way south of the border and landing in the MAAC, where he was an All-Conference selection in 2023-24. Playing 29 minutes per game for the Golden Griffins, Mitchell averaged 12.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG, while shooting 56% from the field.

At 6'8", you do wonder if Mitchell is going to be able to bring that rebounding prowess to the Big Ten given the size throughout the league, but his tireless effort and overall feel for the game should ensure he remains productive as he makes the jump. In some ways, his game is more refined than that of the departing Payne, although he's not quite the athlete, nor does he have Payne's high ceiling. Still, Johnson and staff should feel great about the addition, which should free up Dawson Garcia to play the four, where he's significantly more effective.

Alongside Mitchell, the other name the Gophers have landed in the portal so far is Oregon guard Brennan Rigsby, giving them some much-needed experience among a thin backcourt. Rigsby is unlikely to be the instant impact player Mitchell should be, but the former Duck comes at a need position and could realistically see minutes at point guard in 2024-25.

Rigsby spent two seasons at Oregon after a brief pit stop in the junior college ranks, and proved he could handle life in a power conference. As a junior in 2023-24, he averaged just over 6 points per contest, shooting 41% from the field and 35% from three-point. Those stats certain'y dont jump off the page at you, but you can always find a spot for a power conference player with shooting stroke, especially given Cam Christie's uncertain future.

With Mitchell and Rigsby, Minnesota has worked on two of their greatest needs entering the offseason: rebounding and ball-handling. Expect the staff to continue to work the portal to shore up the backcourt, as they have a need on the wing, regardless of the Christie decision. Another big, even with Mitchell in the fold, also seems like a real possibility.

WTE Big Ten power rankings for 2024-25. dark. Next. WTE Big Ten power rankings for 2024-25

The offseason started off sour in Minneapolis after the departures of Ola-Joseph, Payne, and Carrington, and the Hawkins news was a major gut punch given how late it was in the spring. However, the Gophers have responded fairly nicely given the circumstances, and there's hope 2024-25 could be a breakthrough year. Whether that comes into fruition or not likely hinges on what moves are yet to come in the portal, making this program one to keep an eye on the deeper we push into the college basketball offseason.