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Drexel grad transfer Alihan Demir to make 'immediate impact,' says Gophers coach Richard Pitino

Alihan Demir is 6-foot-9 and can handle the basketball.

It's all lip service until it happens, but it's encouraging nonetheless that head coach Richard Pitino is confident in grad transfer Alihan Demir playing valuable minutes for the Gophers next season. 

"We are extremely excited about welcoming Alihan to our basketball program," said Pitino in a statement. "With his skill, size and versatility I expect him to make an immediate impact. He will do great things on and off the court."

Demir, a 6-foot-9 forward arrives at the University of Minnesota after two years as a standout for Drexel University, where he a third team all-conference selection this past season, averaging 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. 

Before Drexel, Demir played one season at Central Wyoming College. He also played in his home country of Turkey for the nation's Under 16 and Under 18 Ankara championship teams.  

"In Europe, they like to make big guys handle the ball, so at my high school, I would basically play every position," Demir said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer in November. "I think that has helped my game here because I can do some down-low things but I can also dribble drive, shoot a little bit."

Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey and has a population of 4.6 million, more than a million people larger than the entire Twin Cities metro area. 

Pitino's 2019 signing class also includes incoming freshmen Isaiah Ihnen (Germany), Tre' Williams (Dallas, Texas) and Sam Freeman (Dallas, Texas). 

All of them could wind up playing valuable minutes in 2019-20 considering Pitino has to find replacements for Amir Coffey (NBA Draft), Isaiah Washington (transfer), Dupree McBrayer (graduation), Jordan Murphy (graduation) and Matz Stockman (graduation). 

The roster could be stabilized by point guard Marcus Carr, who sat out last season after transferring from Pittsburgh, and Eric Curry, who has missed the majority of the last two years due to injuries. Payton Willis, a transfer from Vanderbilt, could also contribute now that he's eligible to play.

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