Amir Coffey can't so much as get nachos in the Williams Arena concourse without the Gophers faithful descending.
Most fans just want to say hello to the Hopkins High School standout and nationally lauded Gophers signee, to tell him thanks for choosing Minnesota and that they can't wait for him to arrive.
But at least once every game, that last sentiment takes on a little more intensity. The smile gets a little flatter, the eyes get a little bigger and it comes out more like, "Come on, we need you now, hurry up PLEASE!"
"Yeah I definitely get that one every time," Coffey said with a chuckle.
That's not surprising considering the Gophers are off to their second consecutive 0-3 Big Ten Conference start and head into Saturday's home game against Northwestern with seven losses in their past eight games. Last year, they started 0-5 and were left out of postseason consideration after an 18-15 finish.
But the presence of Coffey, the headliner of coach Richard Pitino's best recruiting class yet, provides the most tangible nod to a brighter future that could flip the current script — one that many Gophers fans are reacting to with impatience.
The versatile 6-8 guard is dominating again after rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, leading 14-0 Hopkins with nearly 19.8 points a game even as he keeps one eye on his next act.
"It seems so fun playing college ball and against competition like they do," Coffey said. "If I could, I would put on a jersey right now and play with them. I can't, but that's definitely something I think about."
In the meantime Coffey, who turned down offers from the likes of Arizona, Iowa State, Michigan State, Texas and Wisconsin, to name a few, sounds as confident and invested in his Gophers as ever.
Already using the pronoun "we" when he talks about Minnesota, Coffey comes to every home game he can, ventures down to the locker room afterward and hangs out in the dorms on the weekends.
He is planning to work out in Dinkytown some as soon as he finishes his high school season, and he's pinpointed June 10, the earliest possible, as his campus move-in date. His roommate will be fellow 2016 recruit and friend Eric Curry, and the two text about the Gophers "almost every day," he said.
And despite the fact that Coffey's only goals for his high school season involve more winning, he's not bothered by the Gophers' losing present.
"Every team struggles every now and then, it's just a part of basketball," he said. "We [the Gophers] have a pretty young team. … I know the guys pretty well and I know they're going to work hard to do better and do everything they can to start winning. It's not tough for me because I know they're working hard to get better and things will change around soon."
As for the pressure of being the team's savior, a not-so-subtle projection he hears often in mentions on Twitter and other social media, Coffey handles that burden with the same grace as he does the Gophers fans who approach him at games.
"I don't think of it as pressure," he said. "I just know the fans have high expectations for the team and we're all just going to work hard and do our best. Hopefully that will be enough for them and hopefully we'll win some games."