Prior Lake five-star big man Dawson Garcia is one of the most sought-after uncommitted prospects left in the Class of 2020 nationally, but Gophers fans will find out soon if he'll stay home.
The 6-foot-11 senior will make his decision Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at his high school. The announcement is expected to be streamed live on CBSSportsHQ.
The Gophers are among Garcia’s finalists, including Marquette, Indiana and Memphis. All four schools visited him over the weekend to make their final pitches, but the Golden Eagles are the projected favorite.
Minnesota fans are still hoping Richard Pitino can pull off the program’s biggest recruiting splash in more than a decade. The last five-star prospect to sign with the Gophers was former Hopkins and NBA forward Kris Humphries in 2003.
Pitino and his assistant Kyle Lindsted, the primary local recruiter on Garcia, have told Garcia he could be a hometown hero if he stayed to help the Gophers build a championship contender next season.
“Staying home opens up a ton of opportunities outside of basketball as well,” Garcia told the Star Tribune. “The basketball piece would be crazy, too. Just if I committed there, it would blow up. Just kind of that hometown guy who stayed there. There’s always been that one kid who stayed home and turned that program around. That’s kind of their pitch to me: ‘Why not me?’”
During Garcia’s official visit to the Gophers last month, he was shown a video montage of the top Minnesota high school players who stayed home recently, including Amir Coffey, Daniel Oturu and Gabe Kalscheur.
“They had videos of all those guys putting the hat on after they told the press they were committed to the Gophers and staying home,” Garcia said. “That was just really cool to see. Then they did a little [fake twitter post]: ‘Dawson Garcia has committed to Minnesota.’ And had little twitter clips edited on there. It did give me the chills. It was kind of cool to see the support and all that.”
Everywhere Garcia goes around the Twin Cities he hears Gophers fans telling him how much it would mean if he played for the home state school.
“I feel a little pressure,” he said on Instagram video recently. “I just hope at the end of the day people respect my decision wherever I go. If it does happen to be home that would be pretty sweet, because I have a lot of people I know surrounding me.”
The Gophers opened the early signing period signing four-star prospects Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Martice Mitchell, who have Pitino’s 2020 class ranked top 40 nationally and in the middle of the Big Ten.
Garcia would put Minnesota’s class near the top of the Big Ten and top 20 nationally. But recruiting sites project Marquette as the favorite to sign Garcia, who talked about why the Golden Eagles are strongly in the mix.
“I would definitely say their actions,” Garcia said. “They’ve been recruiting me a pretty long time [couple years] here. Their constant support. They’ve always kind of been there talking with me and giving me feedback. My relationship with the coaching staff [is strong].”