You might have to use a magnifying glass to see any Gopher cover boys for college basketball season previews hitting newsstands next month.
Regional covers have already been revealed for Lindy’s Sports, Athlon Sports and Street & Smith.
But no Gophers are featured prominently.
The only Minnesota cover presence in all three college basketball publications is a tiny Mason dribbling in the top right corner of Street & Smith. It's definitely overshadowed by a gigantic photo of Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh.
McIntosh is an All-Big Ten point guard who some college basketball observers consider slightly ahead of Mason, much like their teams. I don't agree. But there at least is some logic to that.
In Lindy’s case, they’ll sell a different regional cover in Minnesota. That one features Wisconsin’s D’Mitrick Trice and Marquette’s Markus Howard. These two point guards were freshmen last year. Howard was special. Trice was a backup. Both were no Mason, an All-Big Ten first teamer.
According to a Lindy’s spokesperson, the magazine’s publisher J. Lindy Davis Jr. said Minnesota will get a player on a college hoops regional cover next year. Too bad that won't be Mason, who will be gone.
“We do 21 covers and have added more and more players the last couple of years,” a Lindy’s Sports spokesman said. “As you know there are a lot of teams. We probably should've put a Minnesota player on this year, but Wisconsin and Marquette have been pretty good over recent seasons.”
Lindy’s Sports might not be the only magazine to feature a Gophers player on the cover in the near future.
Athlon Sports executive editor Mitch Light told the Star Tribune this week that Pitino’s team probably should’ve had someone on the cover this year. Athlon’s college hoops 2017-18 preview cover boy for this region is Wisconsin’s star Ethan Happ.
The Gophers had been on the Athlon cover before when it shared a regional cover with Iowa and Iowa State in the early 2000s until three years ago, Light said.
“In all, we produced about 40 different covers every year,” Light said. “In 2015, our circulation department decided to cut back and focus on about 10-12 schools — specifically in markets in which we have typically sold well. We are always looking at the numbers and looking at which programs are doing well as we make our decisions going forward. With hopes high at Minnesota, maybe this is the year we should have added a Minnesota cover. It's something for us to think about next year.”
Cover presence or not, Minnesota has been receiving an abundance of preseason hype for having nearly every player back after turning around from 8-23 to 24-10 last season.
Magazine previews will be high on Pitino's squad this year. Lindy’s ranks the Gophers No. 22 nationally and third in the Big Ten behind Michigan State and Northwestern. Athlon ranks the Gophers No. 16 and second in the league behind the Spartans.
Another impressive year and fans can likely pick up college basketball annuals next season with more than enough Gophers presence to catch your eye.
-- Looking for the first glimpse at the Big Ten outlook for the Gophers in preview magazines? Lindy's Sports annual is expected to be released on its app Wednesday. Don't be surprised to see Mason and Minnesota center Reggie Lynch among the top players in the country at their position.