Being able to play at home in Minnesota for the Gophers was on Reggie Lynch’s mind since he transferred from Illinois State last year.

And after sitting out last season and missing months of practice because of a suspension and injuries, Lynch, a 6-10 junior from Edina, finally will make his U debut in Thursday’s exhibition game against Bemidji State at Williams Arena.

Knee surgery on a slightly torn meniscus in late September didn’t discourage Lynch from getting himself ready to play in time for the Nov. 11 opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. After being cleared for full contact last week, he started and logged 15 minutes in Saturday’s closed scrimmage victory against DePaul.

“It was always a dream of mine to be in the NBA and before the NBA to be a Gopher,” said Lynch, the nephew of former Gophers and NBA player Kevin Lynch. “We’re ready to make this season one of our best seasons. For me, I need to just go out and make an impact.”

As a sophomore at Illinois State in 2014-15, Lynch earned All-Missouri Valley second-team honors and was a finalist for the Lefty Driesell Award, given to the nation’s top defender. He averaged 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and led the nation in shot blocking percentage (15.2) for the second consecutive season.

Lynch made a full recovery from rotator cuff surgery earlier this year.

But the Gophers had to prepare with junior Bakary Konate as the starting center when Lynch was suspended from team activities all summer after a sexual misconduct arrest that resulted in no charges.

Since being reinstated in September following a university investigation, Lynch tried not to look back on the suspension.

“I did not deserve to have to go through what I went through,” he said recently, “but now that that’s behind me, I am very excited about this season.”