You might have noticed a familiar face from the Gophers senior class last season still with the basketball team during the recent foreign trip to Italy last week.
That was former Gophers guard and DeLaSalle standout Jarvis Johnson, who graduated in the spring with a degree in youth studies.
A heart condition that first surfaced with a cardiac arrest in the eighth grade kept Johnson on the sidelines for his entire college career. Instead of quitting basketball, Johnson remained on scholarship and supported his Gophers basketball teammates the last four seasons from the bench.
Johnson now gets to help coach the Gophers. It will be announced later, but he officially joined Richard Pitino’s staff for the 2019-20 season.
"Jarvis was kind of the first guy we set out to get in the Twin Cities," Pitino said last season. "Unfortunately, he wasn't cleared, but he has been a terrific member of our team. He's got great perspective. Great on the bench. Great in the locker room. Great in the dorms talking to the guys. He's a leader in a lot of ways that people don't know about.”
Johnson, who received a standing ovation while introduced as the "sixth-man" on senior night before the U's victory over Purdue, thought about pursuing other opportunities to play. He stayed home for a reason, though. He's still living a dream being a part of his hometown program.
“Just watching them from the locker room talks, I get chills during the game,” Johnson told the Star Tribune during a Q&A in March. “I play through them honestly. And I think they play through me.”
Cleveland State announced Monday that it will be opening the 2019-20 season against the Gophers on Nov. 5 at Williams Arena. The Vikings were 10-21 last season, including 5-13 in the Horizon League. Head Coach Dennis Gates recently hired a new assistant, Dru Joyce III, the former high school teammate of LeBron James.