UNC transfer Dawson Garcia commits to hometown Gophers

April 18, 2021: Gophers Head coach Ben Johnson made a major statement with his first 2022 transfer portal addition, adding former McDonald’s All-American and Prior Lake, Minn. native Dawson Garcia.

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This is the biggest commitment of the Ben Johnson era. Ever since Dawson Garcia left the North Carolina program in January to return home to Minnesota to assist with serious family health issues, the rumors started swirling. Minnesota is now Garcia’s third school in as many years, so I was a bit more skeptical of the idea of putting him on the team before he even entered the portal, but now here we are. As a former McDonald’s All-American Garcia will be one of the most talented players to don the Maroon & Gold in recent memory. This commitment is a statement from Coach Johnson, that this is a new era of Gophers hoops. Garcia is just the start of something special being built in Dinkytown.

Who is Dawson Garcia?:

Dawson Garcia was a standout high school player for the Prior Lake Lakers, building up his profile as one of the best players in the country in the 2020 recruiting class. As a four-star prospect, 247sports rated him as the No. 37 overall player, earning him a spot on the 2020 McDonald’s All-American team. He held offers from all of the top programs, but his final list of seven schools included Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Marquette, Memphis, Minnesota and North Carolina.

After committing to Marquette out of high school, he averaged 13 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field in 29.7 minutes per game. After a coaching change for the Golden Eagles Garcia entered the transfer portal, joining the North Carolina Tar Heels. He started 12 of their first 16 games averaging 9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game. He then left the team in January tending to a serious family health issue ending his 2021-22 season. He opted to enter the transfer portal on April 13th, only nine days after UNC’s National Runner-Up finish.

  • Scouting Report: Garcia is an NBA talent. At 6-foot-11 with an outside shot, ball handling of a guard and the ability to guard one through five, he is the ideal modern big man. With the Gophers’ current roster, I would expect him to guard the opposing team’s five, but that far from means that he will be playing in the post. With a dominant season in 2022-23, there is a chance that it will be his only season with the Gophers and he declares for the NBA Draft.

Instant Reaction:

This commitment is Ben Johnson slapping everyone in the face that said he was a bad hire. This is the type of commitment that moves the needle and makes this team and program relevant and competitive. Dawson Garcia is an elite talent and his addition to this Gophers frontcourt is scary. Joining Parker Fox and Jamison Battle, Minnesota now has the frontcourt talent of a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team. Even the depth of Treyton Thompson, Isaiah Ihnen, Pharrel Payne and Joshua Ola-Joseph is a sight to behold. The guard play is a massive question mark, but Johnson and his staff are far from done using the transfer portal.

Garcia is one of the best Minnesota high school basketball players in recent years and he will now play for his hometown Gophers. When Johnson was brought in he was supposed to keep talent in-state, and as of today, there is a chance they start as many as four Minnesota-born players next season. I believe that Garcia drastically raises the ceiling of this team, joining Fox and Battle as three players that could go for 20 and 10 any night of the week. All four players are athletic enough to guard one through five and unselfish enough to facilitate on the offensive end, making a matchup nightmare for opposing Big Ten teams. I am now jacked up for college basketball season and November cannot come soon enough.

What is next?:

The Gophers’ frontcourt is now loaded with talent. They could always look to add more, but I would assume and hope that guard play will be their focus for the rest of the offseason. Purdue transfer Isaiah Thompson, Indiana transfer Parker Stewart, Clemson transfer Nick Honor, Penn State transfer Sam Sessoms and Loyola Maryland transfer Cam Spencer have all shown mutual interest, while hometown options Michael Jones (Davidson) and Josiah Strong (Illinois State) have also received interest.

Realistically, if the Gophers are able to add just two of those seven, I believe that they would have the talent to be a tournament team next season, anything more would be a major win. As of now Braeden Carrington, Jaden Henley and Abdoulaye Thiam have combined for zero starts at the division one level, so veteran depth at the position seems to be a must.

With a top-40 incoming freshman class nationally, Johnson has done a terrific job building a competitive roster in just over 12 months. This team’s frontcourt will be its strength next season. The guard play will be what determines the ceiling, but in my eyes, this is starting to have the feeling of an NCAA Tournament roster. As it sits now, they will have four open scholarships remaining to work with this offseason and I would not be shocked if Will Ramberg earns one of those scholarships after playing in 13 games last season.

Follow @tonyliebert on Twitter for more updates all offseason.

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