It was an interesting twist earlier in June when center Matz Stockman was released from his scholarship after graduating from the U to pursue playing his final season elsewhere.
That left room on Minnesota's roster for former North Dakota guard Geno Crandall, who told the Star Tribune he'd take an official visit with the Gophers on Thursday. He's also visiting Gonzaga this weekend.
Crandall's potential impact wherever he lands is a given as a two-time All-Big Sky performer and starter on UND's NCAA tournament team in 2017.
The 7-foot Stockman announced on Twitter he will be transferring to California-Berkeley to play his final college season. But before sitting out in 2017-18, he barely played in three seasons at Louisville.
So it appeared to be worth the risk for Richard Pitino to let Stockman leave and lose depth at center, to hopefully land a dynamic backcourt player like Crandall.
A year ago, the Gophers struggled in the middle when senior starter and Big Ten defensive player of the year Reggie Lynch was suspended. They lacked depth with seniors Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou failing to provide an adequate presence in Lynch's absence. Pitino could've used Stockman last season, but playing time for the Norway native would’ve been limited this year behind redshirt sophomore Eric Curry and freshman Daniel Oturu, who are expected to compete for the starting center position.
Curry (knee) and Oturu (shoulder) will both be coming off injuries entering the 2018-19 campaign. But if they stay healthy, the Gophers might not miss Stockman depth-wise in the paint.
Meanwhile, Crandall would provide much needed depth at point guard behind sophomore Isaiah Washington, who is currently the only floor leader on the roster after captain Nate Mason graduated.
The 6-4, 180-pound Crandall made several unofficial trips to the hometown Gophers this month and visited Xavier last week. The former DeLaSalle standout is planning on making a decision next week after taking his last trip this weekend to Gonzaga.
Crandall averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists last season for the Fighting Hawks. He would instantly make Minnesota's backcourt one of the best in the Big Ten, alongside returnees Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer and Isaiah Washington and newcomers Brock Stull and Gabe Kalschuer.