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Deja Church switches commitment from Gophers' women's basketball to Michigan

Three-star Southfield-Lathrup High School (Mich.) guard Deja Church switched her commitment from the Gophers to Michigan on Thursday. 

Church, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, had been the second member of Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings' 2017 recruiting class, joining fellow Michigan native Destiny Pitts, a four-star wing from Detroit Country Day High School.

Pitts, who grew up playing basketball with Church, was shocked about her friend's decision.

"I am surprised because since we were little, Church and I have been talking about going to college together," Pitts said in a text, "and to see her back out was disappointing. But nonetheless, I'm happy for Church and will support whatever she does despite my opinion. At the end of the day, she has to do what's best for her. And I just hope Michigan appreciates and recognizes how special D. Church is. Go Gophers!" 

At Lathrup, Church earned Class A Player of the Year honors as a junior. She played on the same high school team last season with twins Taiye and Kehinde Bello, who are both Gophers freshmen forwards this year.

Lynch cleared for contact, could play in Gophers exhibition game

Reggie Lynch isn't being limited in practice any longer, which is a big step toward the junior center finally making his Gophers debut. 

"Yesterday, he did 15 minutes of contact," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said Tuesday at Gophers media day. "He was really good. It's now (being) patient, (getting) him ready. He's so eager to get back on the court. It's let’s not rush it. Let’s be patient. The biggest thing is let’s get you ready for the first game. Whatever (trainer) Ben Felz and the doctors tell us to do we're going to ease into it as much as we can."

The Gophers scrimmage against DePaul at home Saturday. But Pitino hopes Lynch can play for the first time in front of fans in the exhibition game Nov. 3 against Bemidji State.

"I want him to be 100 percent," Pitino said. "That's my biggest thing. That's more important than anything else, because he's going to have jitters. Not only has he not played in a year, but he came here to play for his home state. That means a lot to him. So he'll have those jitters. That's why I like those exhibition games to get that out of the way." 

Lynch called the meniscus tear a “small injury.” He’s been ahead of schedule in recovery since having surgery a month ago.

“I’m already practicing, so I’m not worried about it,” he said. “No one on the team is worried, either. They’re just like “Reggie got injured, so he can skip the hard parts of practice.’ So basically that’s all about it to me. Obviously, it’s very important to me and I don’t want to skip these practices.”  

Being able to participate more in practice this week, Lynch had to learn the plays and get used to the speed of the game again.

“The rest of this week, I’ll be able to do more of the type of stuff everyone else is doing,” he said. “So I’ll be back in the flow soon.”

-- Lynch was Akeem Springs’ host in April when the Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate transfer made an official visit to the Gophers, so he didn’t believe Monday's controversial tweet meant anything about Springs' commitment to the team.

“Don’t read into that,” Lynch said. “He’s all about winning, as am I, as is everyone. No need for him to address the team. We know what he’s about.” 

-- Strength and conditioning coach Shaun Brown wants Lynch's playing weight to be less than 260 pounds this year. Lynch had hoped to play at 265, but he’s at 258 right now. He'll likely lose more weight to start the season.

-- Freshman Eric Curry (6-9, 235) gained more than 20 pounds since he was a senior at Southwest Christian Academy in Arkansas. Sophomore Dupree McBrayer (6-5, 190) put on 15 pounds from last year. Freshman Amir Coffey (6-8, 195) gained nearly 10 pounds over the summer. Freshman Michael Hurt (6-7, 200) actually lost 10 pounds after arriving on campus. He says he still feels strong enough to play some power forward, if the team needs. Hurt has practiced more in the post since Davonte Fitzgerald suffered a season-ending knee injury.

“What we worked on is cutting my weight down and kind of fixing my diet,” Hurt said. “Focusing on a lot of stuff to build a lot of muscle. That’s one thing I definitely got from the summer. Hopefully building my muscle will definitely help get my weight up as well.”

TV Listings

Local Schedule

  • Gophers men's hockey at Clarkson

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm on BTN PLUS

  • Gophers football at Illinois

    11 am on BTN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers men's hockey at St. Lawrence

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • New York at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29

  • Dallas at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Sacramento

    9:30 pm on FSN/NBATV, 830-AM

  • Vikings at Chicago

    7:30 pm on ESPN, 100.3/1130

  • Memphis at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Buffalo at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Denver at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Bemidji State at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

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