Interview conducted by Chris Monter
Nolan Winter, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward from Lakeville (MN) North, received a scholarship offer from Minnesota Saturday. Winter is one of the top players in the state in the Class of 2023.
Winter averaged 11.0 points per game this season. He scored in double figures in eleven of 20 games, including a season-high 19 points in the season opener versus Farmington as the Panthers finished 13-7.
Winter comes from an athletic family. His father, Trevor, played for Minnesota from 1993-97 and played one game with the Minnesota Timberwolves and with the Fargo-Moorhead Beez of the International Basketball Association and the La Crosse Bobcats of the Continental Basketball Association. His mother, the former Heidi Olhausen, played volleyball for the Gophers after a standout high school career at Lakeville.
GopherHole caught up with Winter Sunday at the Breakdown Summer Series to learn the latest on his scholarship offer and upcoming junior year.
GopherHole: The Gophers offered you a scholarship yesterday. What was that like?
Nolan Winter: It was great. I had a call with Coach Johnson at around 1 o’clock. He just said that he was watching film and thinks that I would fit in well with the program, so he gave me a scholarship and I am just super blessed and happy.
GopherHole: Did you have an indication that that might happen?
Nolan Winter: My coach told me to call him, kind of just out of nowhere, so I knew something was kind of up, so I gave him a call.
GopherHole: What has the reaction been? I know that it was only a day ago, but have you heard from a lot of people so far?
Nolan Winter: Yeah, a ton of people. Parents started crying. I kind of started crying. I was kind of shocked at the moment. Super happy. Heard from a lot of people and my friends. It was good.
GopherHole: I know we talked before about you going to a lot of games growing up. Does that make it even more special knowing that they are the first school to offer you?
Nolan Winter: Yes. My hometown team. Going to all their games when I was little and now having a chance to play for them, it’s really cool.
GopherHole: Obviously, you are only going to be going into your junior year, but does make you look at your recruitment different knowing that you got an offer from them already?
Nolan Winter: It is a good offer and it is a great school, but I’m still going to work hard and still want more scholarships, but it is a good start.
GopherHole: I know that in June, schools can start contacting you. What schools are you hearing from?
Nolan Winter: I took an unofficial to Maryland. I know Penn State and Purdue have talked to my coach. I’ve talked to Stanford. Wisconsin, I just talked to yesterday again. Quite a bit of schools.
GopherHole: Does that change things a lot now that you can talk to coaches because before it was hard for you to really know what schools really are interested in you?
Nolan Winter: Before this, it was colleges were just calling my coach, but since June 1st, I’ve been talking to a lot more colleges. Kind of makes it a little more fun.
GopherHole: Do you like the recruiting process so far. Can you see how it can get a little bit overwhelming?
Nolan Winter: I can see that, but I love it so far. It’s fun talking to the coaches. Seeing what schools are interested in me. It’s fun.
GopherHole: Your parents have been through the whole thing as well. Does that help that you can rely on them a little bit?
Nolan Winter: Yes. They will give me a lot of advice. Talking to colleges. How to talk to them. What they like to hear, so they help me a lot with that.
GopherHole: I know that you are playing with Lakeville North here and in the South of the River Summer League. You lose some key seniors (top two scorers and five of their top eight scorers), but you have a lot of good players coming back. What are the expectations for you guys this upcoming year?
Nolan Winter: We are a young team, but I think that we have high expectations to become one of the best in the state. I think we can do that. We have a lot of talent. We are just young, so over the year, I think that we can get a lot better and become one of the best.
GopherHole: You guys were playing really well down the stretch (winning seven straight) before being upset in the playoffs (by Rosemount after leading by four points at halftime). Is that a motivating factor for you guys this year?
Nolan Winter: Yes. We are just going to think back to last year. We are not going to let that happen again. We are going to remember how it felt and we are going to come back stronger this year.