Gophers senior-to-be Charles Buggs will graduate this summer and transfer elsewhere to use his remaining year of eligibility, the team announced Tuesday.
Buggs, who needs to complete an internship in order to earn his degree according to a source familiar with the situation, will be eligible to play for another team this fall under the NCAA’s graduate transfer rules.
“It has been a pleasure to coach Charles over the past three years and see his continued development and growth as a basketball player and person,” coach Richard Pitino said in a statement. “Charles has always represented the university with class and I am especially proud of him graduating. He has a bright future in basketball and life ahead of him, and will no doubt find success wherever he goes.”
The 6-9, 230-pound forward is the Gophers’ only remaining player who was recruited by former coach Tubby Smith. Buggs, who redshirted his freshman season, averaged 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24 minutes a game last season, starting 21 of 28 games. Pitino also benched Buggs for three games, initially telling the media “it just happened that way,” but later hinting that he wanted to send a message about his veteran continuing to “stay engaged” and “work hard.”
“He’s got so much potential,” Pitino said then. “If he could just put it together, he could be a really good player.”
With freshman forward Eric Curry, now-eligible transfer forward Davonte Fitzgerald and graduate transfer wing Akeem Springs joining the team this fall, Buggs was not expected to be a major part of the rotation next season.
The source said the two parted on amicable terms.
“I want to take the time to thank everyone including our coaching staff, and especially Minnesota fans for their support and efforts throughout my time here,” Buggs said in the release. “Being part of the University of Minnesota athletic program, I was able to not only make friends but formulate a new family that helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. I will always support the University of Minnesota and hope to get the opportunity to give back to the school and the athletic program as much as it has given me.”
Buggs’ departure vacates an additional scholarship that the team could fill before the start of the season. Given the timing, however, it could be difficult to do so.
Buggs is the second player to transfer since the Gophers finished an 8-23 season — a program-record number of losses — and endured a late flurry of off-court problems. Last month, the team announced guard Kevin Dorsey would transfer following a suspension for the final four games of last season, after sex videos appeared on his social media sites.