Interview conducted by Chris Monter
Nolan Winter, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward from Lakeville (MN) North, is one of the top players in the state in the Class of 2023.
Winter is averaging 11.0 points per game this season. He has scored in double figures in nine of 16 games, including a season-high 19 points in the season opener versus Farmington.
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 after the Panthers’ 77-69 win over Apple Valley Saturday to talk about the latest on his recruitment and his sophomore season.
GopherHole: I think that this is your seventh straight win. How pleased are you with how well you guys are playing right now?
Nolan Winter: It’s great. We are all competiting. This is a good league. Every night, Every night, we win, it’s daunting. It is not easy to win in this league and we are doing good right now.
GopherHole: Is that tough because you are just playing conference games only and this is one of the best conferences in the state?
Nolan Winter: Yes. Every practice, we are ready to work. Every night, we come 100% locked in and we’re just ready to compete.
GopherHole: How about your own individual play? I know that had a big game the other day and hit the game-winning shot against Eagan after being down by 12 points with 3:30 left in the game. What was that feeling like to hit the game-winner?
Nolan Winter: It was a great comeback. R’Moni Warner hit two threes. Brought us back into the game. All I did was hit a three. It was nothing compared to how hard we played in the last four minutes and got back into the game. We just didn’t give up.
GopherHole: Does that give you some confidence knowing that even if you aren’t as well as you would like that you can always come back?
Nolan Winter: Yes, for sure.
Like when we are down, we are knowing that we are right there, just like against Eagan. We know we can come back from whatever deficit we are down.
GopherHole: How about your own individual play this year. How pleased are you with how well you have been playing?
Nolan Winter: I mean, I can shoot a lot better. It is going to come. I mean, I trust my shot. I am trying to give all the effort that I can rebounding. Rebounding will give off energy to my other teammates.
GopherHole: I was talking to a few people around the program and they said that you weren’t as quick to shoot as they maybe wanted you to at times at the beginning of the season, but now you are getting a little more confidence. Is that something you have noticed too?
Nolan Winter: Yes, I am working on it. I’m a sophomore, but I’m working my best. I’m getting my shots up every day.
GopherHole: You are on a team that has seven seniors, so it is an experienced team, but you are a young player. Has it been easy to work your way into things and get your teammates’ confidence as well?
Nolan Winter: My teammates, they welcomed me in. Last year, I played JV, so I practiced every day with them. Last year, they were great to me. This year, we have a great chemistry. We are all together and we are just ready to compete every night.
GopherHole: Obviously, you come from an athletic family. Have you ever seen much of their highlights?
Nolan Winter: Oh, yeah. My dad shows me his highlights whenever he can. My mom’s a volleyball player, so I don’t watch as many of them, but whenever, my dad gets a chance, he’ll put on his Final Four mixed tape.
GopherHole: Does he show you mostly college or some NBA stuff?
Nolan Winter: College and his high school days. I’ll see his newspapers where he is mentioned in it all the time.
GopherHole: Is that where you got your love of the game, from your dad?
Nolan Winter: My dad showed me everything I needed to know.
GopherHole: Are you starting to hear from some schools already. I know that you are only a sophomore?
Nolan Winter: A couple. I’m just trying to work right now. Schools will come if I give hard work.
GopherHole: What schools are you are you hearing from right now?
Nolan Winter: Wisconsin, Iowa. Just a couple. I know more will come.
GopherHole: Last year, you played for the Howard Pulley 15’s. What are your plans for this summer?
Nolan Winter: I’m playing with Howard Pulley again. I had a great season last year.
GopherHole: Last year was different with COVID and even this season in terms of coaches seeing you. Is that something you are looking forward hopefully by the summer time that maybe things will get back to a little bit more normal?
Nolan Winter: Yes. Our AAU tournaments were very limited with the amount of spectators there, so this year, it will be opened up more. More people coming to my games and it will be fun.
GopherHole: I’m assuming that your hope is to play Division I basketball. What would that mean to you to play D1 ball?
Nolan Winter: That’s my dream since a little kid. I’d love that. I’m working for it. I’d love that. That would be awesome.
GopherHole: The Gophers didn’t have quite the season they were hoping to and there might be a coaching change. What would it mean to maybe hear the home state school?
Nolan Winter: It would be amazing. Homestate, where my dad played, that would be really cool. It would be an honor.
GopherHole: Did you get a chance to go to many college games in the past like the Gophers?
Nolan Winter: Not this year, but I have season tickets for previous years. I went to almost every home game of the Gophers.
GopherHole: What’s the experience like being a fan at Williams Arena?
Nolan Winter: It’s great. The students there are crazy. It’s always packed. It’s nuts. It’s a dream to play there. It’s crazy.
GopherHole: What will it mean to play your first game at a college wherever you decide? What will that mean walking on the floor?
Nolan Winter: It would be crazy. All the fans there, especially with no fans here. I haven’t seen many fans at our games, so once all the students get here, it is going to be crazy, but D1, playing there, that would be so many fans. The level of excitement every day. That would be awesome.
GopherHole: What things are you trying to work on to continue to improve yourself as a player?
Nolan Winter: Defense. I’m trying to get a little quicker. Keep shooting. My post game, since I’m tall, I’m going to have to develop a better post game. Drive, finishing moves. Just everything. I can get better at every area.
GopherHole: Your dad was seven-foot. Have you talked to your doctor or anybody about how much you might continue to grow?
Nolan Winter: Not for awhile, but they are saying that my growth plates are still open, so I’m hoping for 6-10, 6-10 plus. That would be great.
GopherHole: Are you basketball only or are you playing any other sports?
Nolan Winter: I play baseball.
GopherHole: What position?
Nolan Winter: First base.
GopherHole: What things are you going to be doing this summer to continue to improve yourself?
Nolan Winter: AAU. I have a couple of trainers I go to, personal trainers. Staying busy with baseball, AAU and training.