Late Monday night, Gophers senior guard Akeem Springs sparked a little controversy with a Twitter post about his time in Minnesota possibly being cut short.
Immediately, Minnesota basketball fans wondered if this meant the 6-4, 220-pound Wis.-Milwaukee graduate transfer was leaving the program.
“Looks like my time in Minnesota may be shorter than [I] thought,” Springs wrote before later deleting the post. “It’s all good though.”
But Springs said at Gophers media day Tuesday that he has no intentions of transferring because “I just got here.”
Gophers coach Richard Pitino said he had a great talk with Springs but told him, “You got us a little nervous there.”
“I don’t think it was a big deal,” Pitino said. “Akeem has been an awesome teammate. He’s been a great leader.”
Going into fall practices, Pitino had high expectations for three transfers: Springs, center Reggie Lynch and forward Davonte Fitzgerald. But things haven’t worked out as planned so far.
Fitzgerald, a 6-8 transfer from Texas A&M, suffered a season-ending ACL injury three weeks ago. Lynch, who came from Illinois State, has been sidelined since having meniscus surgery last month. And Springs appears to be taking longer than expected to establish himself.
In his first blog of the season last month, Pitino wrote he expected Springs and Lynch to “both make an immediate impact” and “play major minutes.”
That implied Springs and Lynch would be in the starting lineup in the season opener Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette. But Pitino didn’t mention Springs on Sunday when projecting his starters, saying the 22-year-old Illinois native still was going through an adjustment period after missing summer practice.
“I think my point was Akeem got here in late August,” Pitino said Tuesday. “Reggie has not practiced. So when those guys catch up, they’ll be a major part.”
Lynch was able to do some full contact in practice for 15 minutes Monday, Pitino said. But the Gophers still might keep him out of the Nov. 3 exhibition opener against Bemidji State. The 6-10 Edina native was out because of rotator cuff surgery in February. He was then suspended from team activities for the entire summer after a sexual misconduct arrest that resulted in no charges.
“Ever since all the adversity has hit, nothing has changed for me,” Lynch said. “I need to get on this court and show people what I’m about and what this team is about.”
He’s also playing for Fitzgerald. They bonded while sitting out last year together. They were so close that Lynch said he cried for 40 minutes after receiving the text his teammate was out for the year.
“We were just talking about how we were going to play for each other as brothers on the court,” Lynch said. “So it was a very huge blow for me.”
The Gophers have been practicing with sophomore Ahmad Gilbert and freshman Michael Hurt at small forward and power forward since Fitzgerald’s injury.
Fitzgerald wasn’t a starter, though. It seemed Springs came to Minnesota because he expected to be. He said Tuesday that he is confident he will have a big role, regardless if he’s starting or not.
“If you go through my history, I tweet a lot of stuff,” Springs said. “It meant nothing. The only reason why I deleted it is because people started taking it out of context. It was just a tweet. We were just at practice excited about everything that’s going on.
“I don’t think the lineup really matters too much. I know Coach, and the reason I came here is because I believe he wants us to win. I think he’s going to put the guys out there who give the team the best opportunity to win.”