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Payton Willis leaving Gophers as transfer Brandon Johnson arrives

Johnson will be immediately eligible as a grad transfer next season.

One Gopher is gone and a graduate transfer is joining coach Richard Pitino's roster at the University of Minnesota. 

Gophers starting guard Payton Willis announced that he is transferring, but the Gophers also landed 6-foot-8 graduate transfer Brandon Johnson from Western Michigan.

Johnson averaged 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season and because he's a graduate transfer he's immediately eligible to play. It's unclear what Pitino has in mind, but it would make sense that Johnson would take the starting spot of Alihan Demir, who is graduating. 

Earlier this week, Pitino received a commitment from 7-foot Drake center Liam Robbins, who has two years of eligibility remaining. Robbins could replace Daniel Oturu if he has a waiver granted to play next season.

Willis will transfer for the second time in his career after coming from Vanderbilt to Minnesota in 2018. Willis averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and his 57 made 3-pointers was second on the team. 

With Willis gone and starting point guard Marcus Carr declaring for the NBA Draft, the Gophers will have to replace the starting backcourt unless Carr, who hasn't hired an agent, returns for another season at Williams Arena. 

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