With the opportunity for playing time potentially limited for him next season, Gophers junior forward Davonte Fitzgerald will finish his career elsewhere after his request to transfer was granted Monday.
Fitzgerald spent three seasons on campus at Minnesota but played only one, appearing in 31 games this past season with four starts. He averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Fitzgerald graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies in December and can now transfer without sitting out a season, per NCAA rules. ESPN reported he will transfer to Stephen F. Austin.
“Davonte has been an outstanding member of our program through his time here,” coach Richard Pitino said in a statement. “I’m sure he will go on to great things both next year and beyond in his career.”
Fitzgerald never seemed comfortable enough to be a consistent contributor this year after sitting out for two seasons. The Atlanta native missed the 2016-17 Gophers season because of a knee injury and sat out in 2015-16 because of NCAA transfer rules. He began his college career at Texas A&M, spending two seasons (2013-15) with the Aggies.
There was potentially limited playing time for Fitzgerald at the U. Thin in the frontcourt this season, Pitino was forced to play Fitzgerald extended minutes in a smaller lineup alongside All-Big Ten junior forward Jordan Murphy. But the Gophers are adding a few interior players for next season with 6-10 Cretin-Derham Hall senior Daniel Oturu, 6-8 Orono senior Jarvis Thomas Omersa and former Louisville center Matz Stockman, a 7-1 senior.
Eric Curry, a 6-9 sophomore, is expected to receive a medical redshirt after missing this season with a knee injury. Curry was a key reserve at forward and center as a freshman in 2016-17.
Fitzgerald’s departure leaves two scholarships open for the Gophers to use next season. They already have a three-player 2018 recruiting class with Oturu, Omersa and DeLaSalle senior guard Gabe Kalscheur. Pitino could possibly land another high school recruit in the late signing period in April and a transfer for help in the backcourt.
St. Petersburg, Fla., point guard Tai Strickland is scheduled to make an official visit April 6-8 to Minnesota. The son of former NBA point guard Rod Strickland narrowed down his finalists to the Gophers, Wisconsin and Rutgers last week.
The Gophers have also reportedly shown interest in a few Division I transfers, including Pittsburgh guard Marcus Carr, Evansville guard Ryan Taylor and Vanderbilt guard Payton Willis.