STrib: Gophers men's basketball sophomores looking to soar as practice opens

BleedGopher

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Per Marcus:

Entering the first week of practice, the Gophers have high hopes for Pharrel Payne, Joshua Ola-Joseph and Braeden Carrington. Showing how much they developed this offseason will come down to "consistency" on a daily basis, Johnson said.

"Now that you've proven you belong," Johnson said, "let's be consistent with your work."

Most freshmen face myriad highs and lows in their first year of college basketball.

That seemed to be multiplied by a hundred for Payne, Carrington and Ola-Joseph after being thrown into the heat of battle for a 9-22 team that finished last in the Big Ten.

"We talked to those guys a lot last year about [how] they have no idea how much it's going to benefit them as sophomores what they went through," Johnson said. "I've just noticed these guys throughout the summer, just the way they've carried themselves. It's like they're upperclassmen."


Go Gophers!!
 

Another article:

The preseason projections for the Gophers men's basketball team are far from flattering this year, but that doesn't shake the expectations third-year coach Ben Johnson has for his program.

Before Tuesday's practice, Johnson showed his players a video of Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talking about how polished and professional Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud looked because he played at Ohio State.


"Stroud's doing an awesome job," Tomlin said on the video. "He looks mature beyond his years. He looks like a guy who just wore the responsibility of being a franchise quarterback at Ohio State. You know what I mean. Some programs are different than others."

Tomlin added: "You do it for multiple years at a place like that, man. It's probably very similar in terms of wearing the responsibilities for being a quarterback for an organization at this level. He doesn't appear to be overwhelmed by it at all. He manages himself in game and out of game with a maturity level that's impressive."

Johnson gave his team a speech after the Tomlin video about how he wants to raise the standard of what it means to play for the Gophers.

Looking back on this 2021 profile on Johnson, when he took the Gophers job, he also talked about Tomlin being one of the coaches he tries to emulate. A framed picture of Tomlin (along with Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra) was on the wall in Johnson's basketball office.

"Mike Tomlin is a guy who does it the right way, all the way around," Johnson said in 2021. "He's a players' coach but scheme-wise he knows what he's doing. He can do it all. He's got quotes I tell the team all the time. That dude is just a winner."

Practice notes

— Quality point guards are hard to come by in college basketball. Last season, the Gophers had no depth at the position. They have three players who will be the team's primary ball-handlers this season with Pepperdine transfer Mike Mitchell Jr., Howard transfer Elijah Hawkins and freshman Cam Christie, Johnson said Tuesday. Sophomore Braeden Carrington was also mentioned as "being more comfortable handling it."

 



Christie being mentioned as a primary ball handler hopefully signals good things moving forward, it would be a shame to have another season without a competent backup ball handler available.
Agreed, and it's the guard play that will largely determine their success this year. What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is reading that JOJ now has a 46 inch vertical jump. That's pretty crazy. And I wonder how many players there are around who have a 46 inch vertical and still could shoot the 3 fairly well? (Now, that 38% was with a pretty small sample size, but he still showed he can shoot it.)

And I'm not suggesting the guy is going to be an All-American, it's just a really rare combination. If he can handle and pass the ball a bit better and move better laterally on defense, he can be a good piece to this team, because we have reason to think Garcia and Payne are going to be a very good tandem, especially with better guard play.
 


Christie being mentioned as a primary ball handler hopefully signals good things moving forward, it would be a shame to have another season without a competent backup ball handler available.
Christie, Hawkins and Mitchell gives them TWO backup ball handlers. You can worry about something else this season.
 

Christie, Hawkins and Mitchell gives them TWO backup ball handlers. You can worry about something else this season.
Or put another way, it gives us two ball handlers on the court all the time.
 

Christie, Hawkins and Mitchell gives them TWO backup ball handlers. You can worry about something else this season.
My comment wasn't just about Ben. It has been several seasons since this program had someone competent on the bench to spell the point guard. It is likely Hawkins and Mitchell both start, leaving us again with a freshman to come off the bench and run point when those guys need a rest. I suppose it's possible to have mitchell/hawkins on the floor for every minute and not get overworked, but it's likely they'll both end up playing 30+ minutes a game come conference season. Is Christie already up to par to come in and run the offense when those guys need a break? I hope so or it will be another difficult season. And yeah there is still plenty else to worry about.
 

It is likely Hawkins and Mitchell both start, leaving us again with a freshman to come off the bench and run point when those guys need a rest.
I don't have anything to base this off other than instinct- but I'm betting one of Mitchell or Hawkins comes off the bench. Will be easier to stagger their minutes that way and ensure we have one of the vet PGs on the floor at all times.
 




My comment wasn't just about Ben. It has been several seasons since this program had someone competent on the bench to spell the point guard. It is likely Hawkins and Mitchell both start, leaving us again with a freshman to come off the bench and run point when those guys need a rest. I suppose it's possible to have mitchell/hawkins on the floor for every minute and not get overworked, but it's likely they'll both end up playing 30+ minutes a game come conference season. Is Christie already up to par to come in and run the offense when those guys need a break? I hope so or it will be another difficult season. And yeah there is still plenty else to worry about.
I do not see a situation where Christie is on the floor w/out Mitchell or Hawkins also on the floor. We all realize that Mithcell and Hawkins will need a break. Your post assumes they will take that break together. We COULD see some lineups of Christie/Carrington/JOJ on the court together for short periods. I doubt it though. My prediction is the 40 per game for the point will be split somehow between Mitchell and Hawkins. 20/20? IDK. I'm assuming that every minute of a 40 minute game will have either Mitchell, Hawkins or both on the court. 120 minutes to go around for the 1-3 positions. I see 30 each for Mitchell/Hawkins, 30 for Christie and 30 for JOJ. Betts could surprise and see some time at the 3. My 1-3 line ups at all times will be Mitchell/Hawkins/Christie, Mitchell/Hawkins/JOJ, Mitchell/Christie/JOJ, Hawkins/Christie/JOJ. Sprinkle in some Betts and Carrington and we are solid at the 1-3. 4/5 minutes will be dominated by Garcia and Payne. Wilson will get maybe 5/gm. Ihnen and Fox? Big question marks. I could even see a lineup of Mitchell/Hawkins/Christie/JOJ/Payne for a few minutes depending on matchups. I see many scenarios. Like most (all) teams, 8-9 guys will see 10 min/gm or more. Those 8-9 guys are Mitchell/Hawkins/Payne/Garcia/JOJ/Christie/Carrington/Ihnen/Betts. It's nice to have options. I'm
 

I do not see a situation where Christie is on the floor w/out Mitchell or Hawkins also on the floor. We all realize that Mithcell and Hawkins will need a break. Your post assumes they will take that break together. We COULD see some lineups of Christie/Carrington/JOJ on the court together for short periods. I doubt it though. My prediction is the 40 per game for the point will be split somehow between Mitchell and Hawkins. 20/20? IDK. I'm assuming that every minute of a 40 minute game will have either Mitchell, Hawkins or both on the court. 120 minutes to go around for the 1-3 positions. I see 30 each for Mitchell/Hawkins, 30 for Christie and 30 for JOJ. Betts could surprise and see some time at the 3. My 1-3 line ups at all times will be Mitchell/Hawkins/Christie, Mitchell/Hawkins/JOJ, Mitchell/Christie/JOJ, Hawkins/Christie/JOJ. Sprinkle in some Betts and Carrington and we are solid at the 1-3. 4/5 minutes will be dominated by Garcia and Payne. Wilson will get maybe 5/gm. Ihnen and Fox? Big question marks. I could even see a lineup of Mitchell/Hawkins/Christie/JOJ/Payne for a few minutes depending on matchups. I see many scenarios. Like most (all) teams, 8-9 guys will see 10 min/gm or more. Those 8-9 guys are Mitchell/Hawkins/Payne/Garcia/JOJ/Christie/Carrington/Ihnen/Betts. It's nice to have options. I'm
 

And next season, with Asuma on the roster,we may have four ball-hadlers complaining about their shortage of playing time and insufficient ball touches.
 



My comment wasn't just about Ben. It has been several seasons since this program had someone competent on the bench to spell the point guard. It is likely Hawkins and Mitchell both start, leaving us again with a freshman to come off the bench and run point when those guys need a rest. I suppose it's possible to have mitchell/hawkins on the floor for every minute and not get overworked, but it's likely they'll both end up playing 30+ minutes a game come conference season. Is Christie already up to par to come in and run the offense when those guys need a break? I hope so or it will be another difficult season. And yeah there is still plenty else to worry about.
No coach would ever think of rotating the three so that either Hawkins or Mitchell is always on the floor.
 


No coach would ever think of rotating the three so that either Hawkins or Mitchell is always on the floor.
Well they are our only two true point guards so it would help if one of the two is on the floor running the offense at any time, I agree it is unlikely the rotation will actually transpire that way.
 

Agreed, and it's the guard play that will largely determine their success this year. What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is reading that JOJ now has a 46 inch vertical jump. That's pretty crazy. And I wonder how many players there are around who have a 46 inch vertical and still could shoot the 3 fairly well? (Now, that 38% was with a pretty small sample size, but he still showed he can shoot it.)

And I'm not suggesting the guy is going to be an All-American, it's just a really rare combination. If he can handle and pass the ball a bit better and move better laterally on defense, he can be a good piece to this team, because we have reason to think Garcia and Payne are going to be a very good tandem, especially with better guard play.
Rarified air indeed!

Jericho Sims (Cristo Rey in Minneapolis) had #1 vertical in NCAA during his time at Texas and at NBA combine in 2021 had 44.5" vertical, tied for second best all time. All time nba combine best vertical was 45.5" by Kenny Gregory in 2001. 2023 NBA combine best was Julian Phillips of Tennessee at 43". Second was G League Majove King at 42". There were two others at 40.5" to round out the over 40" group.

43"Ja Morant 44"

Vince Carter a jaw dropping 43"

Anyway JOJ tremendously athletic but 46" would top any current nba or ncaa player. At very least should earn him a heck of a NIL poster.
 

Rarified air indeed!

Jericho Sims (Cristo Rey in Minneapolis) had #1 vertical in NCAA during his time at Texas and at NBA combine in 2021 had 44.5" vertical, tied for second best all time. All time nba combine best vertical was 45.5" by Kenny Gregory in 2001. 2023 NBA combine best was Julian Phillips of Tennessee at 43". Second was G League Majove King at 42". There were two others at 40.5" to round out the over 40" group.

43"Ja Morant 44"

Vince Carter a jaw dropping 43"

Anyway JOJ tremendously athletic but 46" would top any current nba or ncaa player. At very least should earn him a heck of a NIL poster.
Perhaps a typo on the vertical recording? I didn’t have the data that you provided for support but 46 just seemed beyond realistic. Alas, it probably is.
 


Agreed, and it's the guard play that will largely determine their success this year. What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is reading that JOJ now has a 46 inch vertical jump. That's pretty crazy. And I wonder how many players there are around who have a 46 inch vertical and still could shoot the 3 fairly well? (Now, that 38% was with a pretty small sample size, but he still showed he can shoot it.)
spud webb had a 46 inch vertical, but only shot 31% on 3s (in the nba)

for the gophers would rodney williams or sam jacobson be close?
 

spud webb had a 46 inch vertical, but only shot 31% on 3s (in the nba)

for the gophers would rodney williams or sam jacobson be close?
Jericho Sims was all time MN high school leaper . Rodney Williams 42.5 ". Sam Jacobson 38"

There was a similar rumor that Rico Tucker (at 6' 0") had 46" vertical jump. I never quite believed that since Michael Jordan still has all time NCAA vertical jump at 46".

In terms of sheer athletic bounce and dunks (that is the whole idea, right) among gophers I would put Rodney Williams first and Sam Jacobson second. I think JOJ is very explosive and could easily end up at #3. It will be fun to watch him this year and coming years. I saw the Star tribune also reported the 46" for JOJ. All I can say is that if real, that is Jordan territory. And would be new all time best at nba combine.

Don't forget Parker Fox is very athletic and was an explosive dunker before his two knee surgeries. Led all of D2 in dunks. Will also be interesting to see how much bounce he has coming back to play again. That has always been big part of his game (blocks and rebounds and dunks).
 


Why didn’t MN pursue Jericho Sims?
He had an offer from MN but it was a little late. He played at a tiny school in a small conference. He never considered opportunities to transfer to a high school with a higher basketball profile. And still he chose Texas over Kansas and 22 other D1 schools, most power 5. Including Auburn, Oregon, U Conn, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida, Memphis and many BIG schools notable MN, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois. Minnesota did not show interest early and he was never a priority.

But the high school kids all knew about him because he, like Sam Jacobson, was electrifying dunker and great fun to watch. When his team played at the small Class A school where my grand kids attend, he stayed around for 15 minutes after the game talking to all the young kids and signing autographs. Great demeanor during games too. Calm, respectful, communicated, unselfish, made his teammates better. Just obviously totally more athletic and more skilled than everyone else. As I mentioned he had the best vertical jump in all of college basketball every year he was at Texas. He is with Knicks now. He started the early part of last season but missed the end of the season with shoulder problem that required surgery. He is expected to be okay for training camp and 2023-2024 season.
 

Agreed, and it's the guard play that will largely determine their success this year. What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is reading that JOJ now has a 46 inch vertical jump. That's pretty crazy. And I wonder how many players there are around who have a 46 inch vertical and still could shoot the 3 fairly well? (Now, that 38% was with a pretty small sample size, but he still showed he can shoot it.)

And I'm not suggesting the guy is going to be an All-American, it's just a really rare combination. If he can handle and pass the ball a bit better and move better laterally on defense, he can be a good piece to this team, because we have reason to think Garcia and Payne are going to be a very good tandem, especially with better guard play.
I thought the best thing about JOJ's game last year was that he played hard every possession, wasn't afraid of the moment and knew how to play without being the centerpiece. I had never understood the concept of going to a prep school and being guy #4 or 7 or not being the star, until I watched him seem to know how to play without being the focal point. It seems to take most freshmen that are THE focus in high school a little longer to figure that out.
Hopefully Christie has been watching his brother and learning from his college and pro experience to shorten his learning curve
 

I thought the best thing about JOJ's game last year was that he played hard every possession, wasn't afraid of the moment and knew how to play without being the centerpiece. I had never understood the concept of going to a prep school and being guy #4 or 7 or not being the star, until I watched him seem to know how to play without being the focal point. It seems to take most freshmen that are THE focus in high school a little longer to figure that out.
Hopefully Christie has been watching his brother and learning from his college and pro experience to shorten his learning curve
I think he took a lot of shots for a guy who was comfortable not being the focus. Totally agree he has a high motor though.
 

He had an offer from MN but it was a little late. He played at a tiny school in a small conference. He never considered opportunities to transfer to a high school with a higher basketball profile. And still he chose Texas over Kansas and 22 other D1 schools, most power 5. Including Auburn, Oregon, U Conn, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida, Memphis and many BIG schools notable MN, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois. Minnesota did not show interest early and he was never a priority.

Considering that list of schools, I would say that playing at a tiny school in a small conference didn't hurt him. I would assume he also played AAU and that would have given him additional exposure.
 


Considering that list of schools, I would say that playing at a tiny school in a small conference didn't hurt him. I would assume he also played AAU and that would have given him additional exposure.
It is one of the sadder Gopher Basketball memories at least for me. Jericho Sims is son of Charles Sims who was Gopher basketball player with Jim Brewer and Mychal Thompson and Flip Saunders. His older brother Dominique Sims played football for Gophers. Dominique Sims was a high school teammate of one Ben Johnson at De La Salle.

Jericho was 6' 1" as Freshman, 6' 6" as Junior and 6' 9" as a senior. He was not considered much of a prospect first couple of years in high school. He actually played point guard all through high school because others on his team could be pressured by good defenders. After Junior year he played with D1 Minnesota and blew up. That D1 AAU team had McKinley Wright who really wanted to go to University. But Pitino only had two scholarships and passed on Wright until it was too late.

Now Ben Johnson was primary recruiter of Jericho. His Dad Charles wanted him to go to U. But Wright was pretty unhappy about how he was treated in the whole process. And I think that whole thing influenced Jericho who realized he had much broader opportunities. (He was not in top 20 in state as freshman or sophomore but was number 2 behind Gary Trent as senior). So missing out on those two (Wright and Sims) when they were essentially lay-ups in recruiting parlance was bad. If Pitino had just taken those two to fill his two available scholarships, he would still be at the U of M, in my opinion.

Here is a link with some highlights of Jericho with D1 MN who won the U17 Adidas Regional Qualifier in Chicago. It would have been fun to have had him at the U. With Wright.

 


Considering that list of schools, I would say that playing at a tiny school in a small conference didn't hurt him. I would assume he also played AAU and that would have given him additional exposure.
It is one of the sadder Gopher Basketball memories at least for me. Jericho Sims is son of Charles Sims who was Gopher basketball player with Jim Brewer and Mychal Thompson and Flip Saunders. His older brother Dominique Sims played football for Gophers. Dominique Sims was a high school teammate of one Ben Johnson at De La Salle.

Jericho was 6' 1" as Freshman, 6' 6" as Junior and 6' 9" as a senior. He was not considered much of a prospect first couple of years in high school. He actually played point guard all through high school because others on his team could be pressured by good defenders. After Junior year he played with D1 Minnesota and blew up. That D1 AAU team had McKinley Wright who really wanted to go to University. But Pitino only had two scholarships and passed on Wright until it was too late.

Now Ben Johnson was primary recruiter of Jericho. His Dad Charles wanted him to go to U. But Wright was pretty unhappy about how he was treated in the process. And I think that whole thing influenced Jericho who realized he had much broader opportunities. (He was not in top 20 in state as freshman or sophomore but was number 2 behind Gary Trent as senior). So missing those two (Wright and Sims) when they were essentially lay-ups in recruiting parlance was bad. If Pitino had just taken those two to fill his two available scholarships, he would still be at the U of M, in my opinion.

There was no way Pitino was not going to take Isaiah Washington who was his number one target. The second signee was Jamir Harris. They both were good prospects. Near the end the four they were still considering were Washington, Wright, Theo John and Jerico. I think they did not want two point guards. John and Sims both sort of moved on. I think they wanted Washington over Wright and Theo John over Sims. The ship had already sailed on Nate Reuvers, Brad Davison, Race Thompson. Jamir from storied Patrick School basketball program, comitted to UM over Seton Hall, Fordham, Hofstra, Princeton ). Stanford was interested late. Anyway lots of talent there.
 




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