April 11, 2021: 6-foot-5 New Hampshire graduate transfer Sean Sutherlin committed to the Gophers Sunday; joining Jamison Battle as the second MN-born player to join Ben Johnson’s roster.
By: Tony Liebert
Former Irondale high school standout Sean Sutherlin announced his intention to come home to the Twin Cities Sunday afternoon. Sutherlin, a New Brighton, Minn. native has had a long road to Dinkytown, but he should fit in well with his hometown Gophers, as Ben Johnson continues to construct his first roster as head coach.
I’m coming home!!! 〽️🙏🏽🏀 pic.twitter.com/Gie4yQfW8i
— Sean (@sean_sutherlin) April 11, 2021
Who is Sean Sutherlin?:
Sutherlin was one of the most underrated players in Minnesota throughout his high school basketball career at Irondale. He ranks third on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,135 career points. As a senior, he dominated, with averages of 23.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 5.0 APG. He would finish his Knights’ career as a three-time all-conference selection, going on to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Game for the 2016-17 season.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard was grossly under-recruited out of high school, finding his way to Sheridan Community College in Sheridan, Wyoming. Playing college basketball in a city with a population of just over 17,000, Sutherlin would score 646 points in two years at Sheridan, helping lead the Generals to a pair of Region IX regular-season titles and a 55-9 overall record. He started 32 games as a sophomore, averaging 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game on top of finishing as a runner-up in the Region IX tournament, then advancing to the NJCAA national tournament, finishing with a 31-4 record. The national stage earned him a scholarship to a division one program, New Hampshire.
Competing in the American East Conference, New Hampshire is one of the smaller schools in all of division one basketball. Located in Durham, New Hampshire, a town of fewer residents than Sheridan the University only sports about 12,000 students. While in Durham, Sutherlin played at a high level in his first season, averaging 12.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.9 minutes per game. He ranked No. 14 in the nation in defensive rebounding (7.64 per game), No. 1 in the conference in double-doubles (12) and No. 2 in the conference in total rebounding.
Following a successful junior campaign, Sutherlin sat out all of the 2020-21 season due to a hip injury. He now finds himself at a school bigger than his previous two stops combined, and a role he couldn’t have imagined a short time ago.
I am going to be honest, I was not aware of Sean Sutherlin before the Gophers had reportedly reached out to him. Since learning about him and his game, I have quickly become a big fan. No matter what level you’re playing at, guards who average 9.3 rebounds per game at the division one level do not grow on trees. He plays a very physical game, with great perimeter defense. He reminds me a bit of former Gophers guard Gabe Kalscheur.
Guys who go through the JUCO ranks are a different breed, plain and simple. You have to truly love the game of basketball to dedicate your blood sweat and tears to JUCO basketball. That should speak for itself, but Sutherlin’s game can translate to the Big Ten. Most Gophers fans might be frustrated about losing Kalscheur and replacing him with a guy from New Hampshire, respectfully so, but Sutherlin can play and fans of Minnesota basketball should give this team and Sutherlin a chance.
What is next?:
Most notably, Sean Sutherlin was AAU teammates on the Minnesota Heat with another potential transfer target Parker Fox (Northern State). Fox would be a huge addition to this team and could add serious scoring potential. Hopefully, the relationship between the two can help with landing the Mahtomedi, Minn. native.
That summer Sean Sutherlin and @MinnesotaHeat teammate Parker Fox had some huge games together. Ben Johnson will try and add Fox’s commitment to go with his former teammate in the coming days/weeks pic.twitter.com/Q5oo95XmIw
— Ryan James (@RyanJamesMN) April 11, 2021
In much less exciting news, the Gophers have officially lost Gabe Kalscheur to Iowa State and Liam Robbins to Vanderbilt. Both players will certainly not be easy to replace, but Ben Johnson and his new staff will do their best. On top of Fox, the Gophers are reportedly interested in North Dakota forward Filip Rebraca, Bryant forward Michael Green III, Texas Tech guard Kyler Edwards, who are all players still in the transfer portal. There would officially be four scholarships remaining after Sutherlin’s commitment. 2021 commit Keny Pohto’s status seems to still be very much up in the air. In his most recent press conference, Johnson hinted at Brandon Johnson and Both Gach returning while Treyton Thompson’s arrival seems imminent.
A potential Gophers depth chart next season:
PG: E.J. Stephens
SG: Both Gach/Luke Loewe
SF: Jamison Battle/Sean Sutherlin
PF: Brandon Johnson/Isaiah Ihnen
C: Treyton Thompson/*Kenny Pohto
The offseason has just begun for the Gophers and Ben Johnson and there is still a long way to go in constructing a formidable roster for next season.