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All of a sudden, Gophers' 2020 starting 5 could be really good

It really depends on a couple of transfers being granted immediate eligibility.

Don't sleep on the 2020-21 Minnesota Gopher men's basketball team just yet. If the season is played – pending the pandemic – head coach Richard Pitino's roster could actually be quite loaded with talent. 

On Monday, former Minnesota prep standout Both Gach (Austin, MN) announced that he's transferring from Utah to the Gophers, though like fellow transfer Liam Robbins (Drake), his playing status for the upcoming season is pending a transfer waiver being granted by the NCAA. 

If Gach and Robbins are immediately eligible, the starting five combinations that Pitino could roll onto the hardwood for Big Ten action could be rather intimidating. Let's a dream a little... 

Starting five

  • PG: Marcus Carr
  • SG: Gabe Kalscheur
  • SF: Both Gach
  • PF: Brandon Johnson
  • C: Liam Robbins

This lineup features three pro-caliber starters in Carr, Gach and Robbins. Remember, we've previously written about Robbins, a 7-footer, who had some NBA scouts salivating while he was routinely dominating the paint at Drake. Carr set assist-to-turnover records with the Gophers last season and tested the NBA Draft waters, as did Gach, who is a 6-foot-7 do-it-all wing capable of playing the point the way Amir Coffey did two years ago. 

Kalscheur struggled with his shot as a sophomore, but he's a lockdown defender with a track record of being a very dangerous 3-point shooter. Johnson, a graduate transfer from Western Michigan, averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds per game last season. 

That starting five is experienced, athletic and big enough to bang in the rough and tumble Big Ten. 

The depth behind the hypothetical starting five is a hype train of its own: 

  • Isaiah Ihnen: 6-foot-9 sophomore who flashed potential as a freshman. 
  • Jamal Mashburn Jr.: 4-star freshman guard, son of ex-NBA player Jamal Mashburn. 
  • Martice Mitchell: 4-star frosh (6-foot-10) with highly touted defensive ability. 
  • Jarvis Omersa: 6-foot-6 spark plug from Orono who brings tenacity off the bench. 
  • Tre' Williams: 6-foot-5 sophomore who can play both guard positions. 
  • Eric Curry: 6-foot-9 forward who is trying to overcome multiple season-ending injuries. 

Of course, this is all dependent on Gach and Robbins being granted waivers. There is no timeline for when the NCAA will get around to reviewing their stories, and whether they'll be granted immediate eligibility is a massive guessing game as to what the committee will decide. 

Reasons for hope are that Robbins transferred to be closer to family – his uncle and cousin are with the Gophers – and Gach transferred back to his home state where he'll also be closer to family, which could help their cases. 

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