INDIANAPOLIS – The Gophers decided to wait another game to unveil highly touted freshman Isaiah Ihnen after he was cleared to make his season debut in Tuesday night's loss at Butler.
The 6-9 German native was a four-star recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, but he missed his third consecutive game after injuring his right wrist last month.
"It's just so hard right now during this stretch to get him meaningful minutes," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "But we need him to be a part of it. We need that length."
Ihnen was ranked as a top-100 recruit when he picked Minnesota over Texas Christian and Tennessee in the spring, but Gophers fans have had to wait to see him play.
Pitino previously said if Ihnen lived and went to high school in the U.S., he would "probably be a top-50 recruit."
After playing for the International Basketball Academy in Munich (IBAM), Ihnen spent the summer with the German U20 national team and participated in the FIBA U20 European Championships in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ihnen finally joined the Gophers in August in time to make a trip to Italy for three exhibition games, during which he had a 19-point performance.
The Gophers were initially hoping the talented 19-year-old with guard skills and length (including a 7-4 wingspan) could help them on the wing with the loss of Amir Coffey to the NBA.
X-rays in late October on Ihnen's wrist came away negative for broken bones, so he was able to recover to practice noncontact after a couple weeks. His wrist was taped Tuesday and he participated in warmups.
Pitino welcomed seven newcomers on the Gophers' 2019-20 roster, the most for the program since 2004-05. Ihnen and 6-10 center Sam Freeman are the only two newcomers not to play so far this season. Freshmen guards Tre' Williams and Bryan Greenlee have played in all three games.
Two set to sign in Pitino's 2020 class
Four-star prospects Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Martice Mitchell are expected to officially become members of Pitino's 2020 recruiting class to open the early signing period Wednesday.
Mashburn, the son of former Kentucky standout and NBA forward Jamal Mashburn, is a 6-2 combo guard for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
The Miami native, who had offers from Cal, Wake Forest, Auburn and UConn, is ranked No. 87 in the 2020 class by 247Sports.com.
The 6-10 Mitchell plays for Chicago Heights Bloom High School and is ranked 127th in the 2020 class in 247Sports.com's composite rankings.